Capricornia MP declines interview request over press freedom
IN THE wake of unprecedented action from media companies across Australia in a united fight for press freedoms, Capricornia MP Michelle Landry has declined to give an interview to a local newspaper whose readership covers a large part of her electorate.
The Daily Mercury requested an interview with Ms Landry on Monday to discuss the launch of Australia's Right to Know coalition campaign.
The campaign is calling for change to six critical areas of the law that allow a veil of secrecy to be thrown over matters important to Australians.
A media advisor for Ms Landry advised she was unavailable for an interview on Monday due to being in "meetings until question time".
Only a day prior, Daily Mercury editor Rae Wilson highlighted how many politicians now "flat-out refuse to answer questions they don't like by sticking to pre-prepared talking points" and how many do not respond at all or by deadline.
In a written statement by Ms Landry, she said the government was committed to freedom of the press and keeping Australians safe.
"These are two fundamental tenets of our democracy and the government will ensure that our democracy strikes the right balance between them," she said.
"While press freedom is a bedrock principle of democracy, it isn't an absolute and all Australians are subject to the law of the land.
"The freedom to publish has always been subject to other considerations such as laws concerning defamation, a defendant's right to a fair trial and national security."
Ms Landry said the government was listening carefully on this issue.
"If there are suggestions or evidence that reveals a need for further improvement of those laws, the government is open to considering that," she said.
Dawson MP George Christensen, who is on leave after his mother died last week, was also contacted for comment.
The six Australia's Right to Know reforms being sought are:
• the right to contest any kind of search warrant on journalists or news organisations before the warrant is issued;
• law change to ensure public sector whistleblowers are adequately protected;
• a new regime that limits which documents can be marked 'secret';
• review of Freedom of Information laws
• that journalists be exempt from national security laws enacted over the past seven years that currently can put them in jail for doing their job; and
• reform to defamation laws.