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Monday, November 01, 2010

House passes shield law

The House of Representatives passed the Wilkie shield law bill to protect journalists' sources ( the Evidence Amendment (Journalists Privilege Bill) last week, the first private members bill to pass, with Government and Opposition members and The Greens Adam Bandt all speaking  in favour. The debate is here-nothing further was said as the bill went through later stages. (My earlier comments on the bill are here and here.)

Bandt and Michael Keenan, Opposition Shadow Minister for Justice both foreshadowed amendments to be moved in in the Senate. Bandt said The Greens would seek to make "explicit that the bill covers bloggers, citizen journalists and documentary filmmakers, and that the privileges provided by the bill cover anyone engaged in the process of journalism, no matter who they are or in what medium they publish," an issue raised here previously. Keenan somewhat confusingly refers to amendments to bring the law into line with NSW law, but that was the stumbling block that sidelined the Government's bill last year. Labor backbencher Graham Perrett seemed to suggest that privilege should only be available to ‘a person who ascribes to the journalist code of ethics as published and codified by Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance.’

Attorney General McClelland acknowledged the contribution to the pasage of the bill by  Chris Merritt of The Australian and John Hartigan and the Right to Know campaign.

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