Pressure builds on state to protect journalists

 

Labor will soon begin consultation on so-called shield laws, as it warns that referring them to the Queensland Law Reform Commission could delay their consideration by more than a year.

It comes as the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance launched a petition calling for the reforms, which would protect journalists from having to reveal their sources and allow them to claim privilege.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath says the reforms could be delayed if the matter is referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning
Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath says the reforms could be delayed if the matter is referred to the Queensland Law Reform Commission. Picture: AAP Image/Josh Woning

 

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath on Tuesday confirmed she would be considering shield laws "in the context of" recent Queensland case law and how they are applied in other jurisdictions.

She revealed that it would include stakeholder consultation about the protections that existed elsewhere and how they could potentially align with Queensland's legal framework.

It is understood consultation will kick off soon and that Labor will not refer the issue to the QLRC, as promised under the LNP's plan, in a bid to avoid delays in its consideration.

"The LNP's proposal to refer the matter to the Queensland Law Reform Commission will delay consideration of shield laws by at least 18 months," Ms D'Ath claimed.

"The QLRC already has a strong body of work in the pipeline which needs to be prioritised before any new work can be undertaken."

LNP justice spokesman David Janetzki hit back, insisting the LNP had a "clear plan" to fix the laws and called on Labor to back their proposal.

Under the LNP's plan, the QLRC would be tasked with reviewing the state's current laws, and drafting legislative amendments by June 30 next year.

"The LNP will take decisive action to protect the public's right to know and the freedom of the press," Mr Janetzki said.

"We have already stated that the Law Reform Commission will report back by 30 June 2021, with recommended law changes."

MEAA Queensland regional director Michelle Rae said the union had launched a petition to show that shield laws were an important issue.

"The MEAA welcomes commitments from both parties to review the protections and ensure that they are in line with the rest of the country as a step in the right direction," she said.

"However MEAA believes it is time for Queensland to be committed to press freedom through the delivery of shield law protections for all journalists and the time for reviews has passed."

Queensland remains the only jurisdiction in Australia without shield laws for journalists.

Sign the MEAA petition here.

Originally published as Pressure builds on state to protect journalists



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