Australian Parliament to probe press freedom after raids

CANBERRA, Australia (AP) – A parliamentary committee yesterday announced an inquiry into the impact of Australian law enforcement and intelligence powers on press freedom following police raids on a media organisation and a journalist’s home.

Australian media organisations have demanded reforms after police raided Australian Broad-casting Corp headquarters in Sydney and the Canberra home of a News Corp reporter in search of leaked government documents.

The Parliamentary Joint Com-mittee on Intelligence and Security announced the government had called for the inquiry based on concerns about those raids and the issue of balancing national security with the freedom of the press.

“This inquiry will allow the committee to hear from the media, government agencies and other interested stakeholders as to the direct impact of these powers on civil society and their importance to both national security and the public interest,” Committee Chairman Andrew Hastie said.

Media organisations asked for responses to the inquiry referred to a joint statement made by ABC Managing Director David Anderson after media executives met with Attorney-General Christian Porter and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher on Tuesday to discuss reforms.

“While our strong preference was for immediate action rather than inquiries, we will engage with any processes that seek to address the issues we have raised,” Anderson said.

“We will continue to push for real outcomes that strengthen the Australian public’s fundamental right to know,” he added.

Australia’s three largest media organisations – ABC, News Corp and Nine Entertainment — joined forces last week to demand legal reforms that would exempt journalists from national security laws passed since 2012 that “would put them in jail for doing their jobs”.