Australia has no equivalent to the US Constitution's 1st amendment
Australians have no guarantee to freedom of speech. Nor is the freedom of the press protected.
A free press and freedom of speech is an implied right for Australians, from a time when we all took the following for granted:
"Only by uninhibited publication can the flow of information be secured and the people informed concerning men, measures, and the conduct of government ... Only by freedom of speech, of the press, and of association can people build and assert political power, including the power to change the men who govern them."
And this is about as far as our Constitution goes on it - implying that it's axiomatic we must have freedom of communication. It's the vibe of the thing.
In practical terms, Australian polity regards a journalist's right to report as a privilege. It is a tightly controlled insiders game - the name chosen for our national broadcaster's lead political reporting program
Insiders is now the most watched morning show on Australian TV any day of the week. So start your week with the program the politicians rely on to find out what's going on.
Considerable restrictions apply to press reporting federal politics and access is controlled by this entity:
Welcome to the website of the Federal Parliamentary Press Gallery. Sometimes referred to as the Canberra Press Gallery, our role is to report on Australian federal politics in publications and broadcasts both nationally and internationally. Media working in the Press Gallery may write for newspapers, online publications, radio, television and social media. The role of the press at Parliament House is always evolving to incorporate the challenges of new media.
This extract is from its website
Full time Press Gallery passes are issued to individuals by the Parliament House Pass Office after acceptance from the Press Gallery committee. The criteria that the committee looks at when deciding on a new application is primarily around the applicant’s and their organisation’s reporting on issues of federal politics.
The committee’s decision on all membership applications is final.
MEAA ACTU/Labor party influence in media reporting
MEAA chief executive officer Paul Murphy said whistleblowers needed support not harassment.
“We have been disturbed by government and its agencies hunting whistleblowers and ignoring the misconduct and untruths that honest people want to bring to public attention,” he said.
However the hand of the ACTU/Labor Party is never far away:
Mr Murphy said secrecy was greatest around asylum seeker policy, and whistleblowers and journalists who sought to inform the public about conditions in offshore detention centres have been targeted.
While MEAA welcomes Opposition (Labor) Leader Bill Shorten’s commitment to allow media access to the Nauru and Manus centres, there is much more to be done in this area.
“These camps have been set up by the Australian government, they operate in the name of the Australian people, and it really is disgraceful that the government attempts to stop the Australian people from finding out what’s being done in our names,” he said.
Effect of the insiders rule - a case study
In 2011 I had a confidential source provide me with evidence of the then President of the Australian Labor Party Michael Williamson's $20M fraud on the members of the ACTU affiliated Health Services Union.
Williamson is now serving a substantial jail term - my colleague Jason Morrison (currently director of news at a major Australian television network) delivered this editorial on Williamson's sentence:
There are a lot of people running around today claiming credit for getting Michael Williamson.
Somehow what he was doing didn’t matter much when he secured the vote in a secret ballot to become ALP President.
Back in 2011, when I joined this station, I signed up to work alongside a few blokes who I thought would make a difference on the airwaves. One of them was Michael Smith.
It was Michael’s dogged attitude and his contempt for to this union rorting which I believe is how we are here today.
Smithy had Williamson on toast. Documents, details, whistleblowers, leaks, company files, the lot. Most of all he had balls to go after this man who’d become a protected species.
It was part of the chapter of investigations and broadcasts that ultimately cost Michael Smith his job. It lead him to Bob Kernohan and AWU and some dodgy syphoning fund that mysteriously had some pretty famous finger prints all over it – Julia Gillard.
Michael’s crime was, according to fools that ran this place at the time, asking unauthorised questions of the then Prime Minister Gillard. Unauthorised questions, whatever in hell that means.
Just about all of the managers that made those decisions to supress that story are now gone. They were gutless and had been got at. Thankfully they’re gone, but so is Smithy and that’s wrong.
Ironically, no ..actually tragically, Michael is out of work and the issues he raised still bubble on and progressively he is being show to be right. Absolutely right.
Williamson should go to jail. Gillard is part of history. Craig Thompson still thinks banging hookers or whatever happened or didn’t happen still is a big misunderstanding. The so-called managers are still managing …and Smith is on the bones of his bum, off the air and out of work for trying to expose them all.
Is it just me or is something not right with this picture?
Yes, you read right. Unauthorised questions - of the woman featured in this cartoon, Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister and Friend of the Clintons.
The greatest scandal with the AWU slush fund is how many in the media aided the cover-up
Michael Smith, who was forced out of 2UE after asking what management said were "unauthorised questions" of Gillard, sums up the case against the media:
When a sitting Prime Minister, reliant on the votes of the very trade union at the centre of The AWU Scandal for her position, is named in a search warrant executed on her former law offices - that is news. Yesterday's proceedings in court and the written reasons for Chief Magistrate Lauritsen's judgement now make clear the breadth of our media's shortcomings in bringing these matters to the nation's attention. A vibrant democracy is a fully informed democracy. That requires a curious, fearless and capable media - not a club of barrackers.
Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun
And so I'd advise caution and fact-checking on everything that bears the stamp of authority of the Australian media.
I'll apply that test to the current claim that Australia has ceased donating taxpayer money to the Clinton Foundation too,