Australia’s secrecy backlash

Media fights back against draconian national security laws, writes Alexandra Squires McCarthy

The World Today
Published 4 December 2019 Updated 2 November 2020 3 minute READ

Alexandra Squires McCarthy

Programme Coordinator, Global Health Programme

On October 21, 2019, Australia’s leading newspapers gave over their front pages to a heavily redacted memo. Below it ran the headline ‘When the government keeps the truth from you, what are they covering up?’ Online news sites also carried the memo and, the evening before, Australia’s main TV channels ran advertisements criticizing government secrecy.

The coverage – an unprecedented show of unity across the media political spectrum – marked the launch of a coordinated Right to Know campaign.

This calls for stronger protections for press freedom at a time when many fear Australia is on a fast track to becoming the world’s most secretive democracy.

It seeks to reform laws on freedom of information and the right to challenge search warrants, increase protections for whistle-blowers and restrict the kind of information the government can deem secret.

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