State’s media gag law reeks of Orwellian privilege

SOMEONE needs to remind politicians George Orwell's books are not "how to" guides.

How elese to describe the thinking behind a hairbrained proposal by the Queensland State Government to gag media outlets from reporting corruption allegations against state and council candidates during an election under threat of jail?

Talk about the height of privilege.

At its heart, the bill would basically allow job hunters - because elections are all about seeking re-employment - to work within a cone of silence.

Does anyone think for a second this level of protection would ever be extended to the general public?

It gets better.

George Orwell’s books aren’t supposed be read as instruction manuals.
George Orwell’s books aren’t supposed be read as instruction manuals.

Under the laws, politicians and candidates would be themselves allowed to write (i.e. publish) letters to constituents outlining allegations the media couldn't.

That smell in the air should remind you of an animal farm.

And we haven't even gotten to the fact the State planned to ram these laws through a truncated parliament within a month.

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Book Jacket of George Orwell novel 1984
Book Jacket of George Orwell novel 1984

The proposal itself is not new.

It was first suggested by the CCC in 2016.

It's disappointing the CCC even made such a recommendation at all, but everyone has dumb ideas from time to time.

Civilisations are supposed to catch these early, look at them quaintly, and then put them aside.

Some of the country's sharpest minds were quick to point this out.

Within 24 hours the MEAA and Australia's Right to Know had taken the bill to task for its impact of the freedom of the press.

The proposed laws, introduced by Attorney General Yvette D’Ath, were yanked back off the table within 24 hours. Photographer: Liam Kidston
The proposed laws, introduced by Attorney General Yvette D’Ath, were yanked back off the table within 24 hours. Photographer: Liam Kidston

Professor Peter Greste, a man who was jailed for more than a year for the unspeakable act of reporting in Egypt, said he had never seen anything like it.

"In fact I've never heard of it in any jurisdiction that I've ever worked in as a journalist and I've worked in many authoritarian regimes around the world," he told News Corp.

Incidentally, less than 24 hours after putting the bill forward the State Government has yanked it off the table, offering only an anaemic two-line excuse about a limited time frame.

Of course the damage had already been done.

And I'd applaud their willingness to listen but, frankly, this garbage should never have made it so far in the first place.

Gympie Times


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