What authorities don't want you to know in times of crisis
Governments, local councils and authorities across regional Queensland are keeping secret multiple issues of serious concern that the public have a right to know.
An investigation by News Corp's regional newspapers has uncovered serious issues in emergency services, local councils and State and Federal Governments that Australians are being kept in the dark about.
These revelations come as the nation's major news outlets campaign for an end to excessive restrictions by governments on what journalists can tell you that has led to Australia being described as the world's most secretive democracy.
In regions like Mackay and Cairns, Right to Information requests over serious allegations in emergency services and the public sector have been refused or held up due to red tape in government departments.
When residents lost their homes to the devastating September fires in the Gold Coast hinterlands, officers refused to release details of how the fires started.
It was only after protracted pressure from the media that the people most affected learned that the cause of the blaze was a discarded cigarette used by teenagers.
Multiple issues over transparency and accountability in local councils across the Sunshine Coast, Gympie and Ipswich have come to light.
Council staff are refusing to release publicly information on spending of ratepayers' money and state corruption invstigations.
Across Bundaberg and the Fraser Coast, the Federal Government has dragged its heels over revealing information about the impact of the Cashless Debit Card on the Federal Hinkler electorate.
In Rockhampton, journalists have encountered blame-shifting and evasion from the Federal Government as the tourism industry stares down a crisis from the shark control program.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority has also come under fire after an inquest into the deaths of six fishermen aboard the Dianne - which capsized off the coast of Seventeen Seventy in 2017 - found the Vessel Monitoring System aboard the boat could be used for safety at sea.
At the time, the AMSA said the system could not be used for such purposes.
The list of concerns goes further as regional journalists are denied access to briefings and receive non-answers from politicians and government departments alike over issues important to the public.
Without attention to these issues, regional Australians will continue to be left in the dark by governments about issues that matter to them and affect their lives.
We are fighting for:
- 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;
- New regimes that limit which documents can be marked 'secret';
- A review of Freedom of Information laws;
- Journalists be exempt from national security laws enacted over the past seven years that can put them in jail for doing their job; and
- A reform of defamation laws