Media protest against censorship and persecution of journalists and whistleblowers. Australia, you're being kept in the dark. 

In Australia, things are starting to change for the Australian citizen Julian Assange. A number of members of parliament want the government to give him consular assistance. 

In addition, the media are protesting against the increasing repression of journalists who unmask secret deals from the government and are being prosecuted for this.

Australian MP Andrew Wilkie stated in parliament that Assange "faces serious human rights violations including exposure to torture and a dodgy trial. And this has serious implications for freedom of speech and freedom of the press here in Australia, because if we allow a foreign country to charge an Australian citizen for revealing war crimes, then no Australian journalist or publisher can ever be confident that the same thing won’t happen to them. Put simply, he must be allowed to return to Australia."

Wilkie is a former Australian intelligence agent who resigned because of the lies about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, used to justify the 2003 invasion. He wants to set up a parliamentary committee of inquiry to halt the extradition process of Assange to the US.

Your Right To Know

The media in Australia have always followed the line of British newspapers and most of the international media by refusing any support for Assange. That now seems to be changing, if only because the Australian government is starting to attack its own journalists when they release secrets that are very compromising for the government. In other words: because they do what Assange did with WikiLeaks.

The Australian newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald, Financial Review, The Daily Telegraph, The Australian, The Daily Examiner, The Advertiser, The Courier Mai, NT News; The Herald Sun, Chronicle, News Mail, Mercury, Cairns Post, The Bulletin, The Observer, The Daily Mercury and The Sunshine Coast Daily all have published blacked out front pages on the same day, with a red "Secret - Not for release" stamp. Nineteen media organizations and journalists' unions have united in a "Right to Know" campaign (see the campaign website here).

Australia, you're being kept in the dark

Some of the things that the government has classified as top secret are 

  • the reports on abuses in aged care homes, the plans to undertake secret surveillance of Australian citizens and the sale of Australian property and lands to foreign powers.
  • Whistleblower Richard Boyle claimed that the Australian Taxation Office is violating its powers by seizing money from the bank accounts of ordinary Australians and small businesses, sometimes without their knowledge. He faces six life sentences in prison if found guilty.
  • Reports on the number of minors who are locked up in maximum-security prisons without any form of trial, in the absence of reception facilities for minors, were also declared secret by the government. 
  • This was also the case with a contract for the outsourcing of all foreign journeys made by the government that was granted without public tender to a company run by the then federal Liberal Party Treasurer (the party of the prime minister).

The reason for this joint action by the Australian media is an incident in June 2019 in which the Australian federal police raided the public broadcaster's office of ABC and the private home of journalist Annika Smethurst. They were looking for leaked government documents about the government's plans to give a blank permission to the Australian Signals Directorate of the intelligence services to spy all citizens. A former army lawyer and a number of journalists were brought up on formal charges.

As you can read on the Your Right to Know website,

the coalition of media organizations said over 60 pieces of legislation have been established over the past 20 years that tighten the freedoms of journalists to do their jobs and penalize whistleblowing.

Australia is at risk of becoming the world's most secretive democracy. - David Anderson, managing director of national broadcaster ABC

#news #australia #whistlebowers #media #politics #assange