Deficient security laws threaten essential rights and freedoms

Recent Australian Federal Police raids on journalists and media institutions have called into question whether the laws of this nation have struck the right balance between security and freedom of speech, the President of the New South Wales Bar Association Tim Game SC said today.

“Although the offences specified as being the subject of the recent raids were made under a previous law, due to the timing of the alleged offences, the Bar Association is still deeply concerned about the implications of the current laws which came into effect late last year. Raids upon journalists should only be countenanced in extreme circumstances.” Mr Game said.

“Last year amendments made to the Commonwealth Criminal Code created offences relating to disclosure of information that may be prejudicial to national security. The amendments provide a limited defence for journalists, media staff and media entities, but like the previous law, they do not provide for a full public interest defence which was agitated for by the Law Council of Australia. Such a defence is necessary to protect the confidentiality of sources, which in turn enables proper reporting and robust debate regarding matters of public importance in a democratic society.” Mr Game said.

“Although the Association does not propose to

/Public Release.