Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Media coverage of Kimba nuclear waste dump is found wanting

February 15, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, Federal nuclear waste dump, media | Leave a comment

Murdoch media and climate change denial

How Rupert Murdoch Is Influencing Australia’s Bushfire Debate, Critics see a concerted effort to shift blame, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change. NYT  By Damien Cave, Jan. 8, 2020  WOMBEYAN CAVES, Australia — Deep in the burning forests south of Sydney this week, volunteer firefighters were clearing a track through the woods, hoping to hold back a nearby blaze, when one of them shouted over the crunching of bulldozers.

“Don’t take photos of any trees coming down,” he said. “The greenies will get a hold of it, and it’ll all be over.”
 The idea that “greenies” or environmentalists would oppose measures to prevent fires from ravaging homes and lives is simply false. But the comment reflects a narrative that’s been promoted for months by conservative Australian media outlets, especially the influential newspapers and television stations owned by Rupert Murdoch.  And it’s far from the only Murdoch-fueled claim making the rounds.
His standard-bearing national newspaper, The Australian, has also repeatedly argued that this year’s fires are no worse than those of the past — not true, scientists say, noting that 12 million acres have burned so far, with 2019 alone scorching more of New South Wales than the previous 15 years combined.
And on Wednesday, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp, the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation. An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.
It’s all part of what critics see as a relentless effort led by the powerful media outlet to do what it has also done in the United States and Britain — shift blame to the left, protect conservative leaders and divert attention from climate change.“It’s really reckless and extremely harmful,” said Joëlle Gergis, an award-winning climate scientist at the Australian National University.
“It’s insidious because it grows. Once you plant those seeds of doubt, it stops an important conversation from taking place.”
………  a search for “climate change” in the main Murdoch outlets mostly yields stories condemning protesters who demand more aggressive action from the government; editorials arguing against “radical climate change policy”; and opinion columns emphasizing the need for more backburning to control fires — if only the left-wing greenies would allow it to happen.The Australian Greens party has made clear that it supports such hazard-reduction burns, issuing a statement online saying so

 

January 9, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Murdoch media: The Australian, Herald Sun and Courier Mail downplay bushfire news

The Australian: Murdoch-owned newspaper accused of downplaying bushfires in favour of picnic races  https://www.theguardian.com/media/2020/jan/04/the-australian-murdoch-owned-newspaper-accused-of-downplaying-bushfires-in-favour-of-picnic-races  

Herald Sun relegates bushfires to page 4 while Courier Mail brings good news via ‘Onion Oracle’Amanda Meade, Sat 4 Jan 2020 The Australian, Rupert Murdoch’s flagship newspaper, has defended itself against criticism it downplayed unprecedented bushfires by failing to put a picture of the disaster on the front page of an edition, even as newspapers across the world featured the harrowing scenes.

Many of the world’s leading mastheads featured pictures of the devastation of the Australian bushfires on page one on Thursday. But the Australian’s first edition ran an upbeat picture story about the New Year’s Day picnic races at Hanging Rock.

Sources at the newspaper said the newsroom was short-staffed over the holidays, however it was noted that resources were found to attack the ABC with gusto over its New Year’s Eve concert.

“Our readers have been fully informed across the nation both online and in paper all week,” editor John Lehmann told Guardian Australia.

The national broadsheet’s lead story on Thursday was about a secret proposal by police to ban alcohol in Indigenous communities in Western Australia – a story deemed more important than the bushfire report, which said eight people were dead and mass evacuations were underway.

There wasn’t a single photo of the catastrophic bushfires until page 4.

Before readers got to that coverage, they were given an exclusive interview with “rebel marine scientist Peter Ridd” who has challenged reef scientists to test whether or not human actions have caused a collapse in the growth rate of corals on the Great Barrier Reef.

The later editions of the paper dropped the racing story and replaced it with photographs of bushfire victims surveying the damage.

The Australian is not the only Murdoch-owned newspaper that has been accused of downplaying the bushfires.

On New Year’s Eve, Melbourne’s the Herald Sun also relegated the bushfires to page 4, even as thousands of Victorians faced a serious bushfire threat.

On the same day, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph blamed the Bureau of Meteorology for inaccurate weather predictions, which may have “lulled residents into a false sense of security about conditions”.

But it was the Courier Mail’s story about the “Onion Oracle” that had some readers wondering what was going on at News Corp.

The Queensland tabloid carried the optimistic news that “Onion Oracle” Halwyn Hermann was predicting rain using an old German tradition. They even compared the Onion Oracle’s predictions to those of the bureau of meteorology.

The Australian has been consistent on one front. Throughout the bushfire season it has kept up its coverage of climate denialism.

Before Christmas, the Australian attempted to smear Greg Mullins and his Emergency Leaders for Climate Action group as “largely a vehicle for Tim Flannery”. Flannery is a leading environmentalist and chief counsellor at the Climate Council.

The former fire and emergency chiefs from multiple states and territories say Australia is unprepared for worsening natural disasters from climate change and governments are putting lives at risk.

The Australian says they are a front for Flannery who is an “alarmist” for urging that coal-fired power stations be shut down.

On New Year’s Eve, the paper led with another “exclusive” report that pushed the line Australia should not speed up its response to global warming.

January 4, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, climate change - global warming, media | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear nonsense from Geoff Russell – “we’re all toast without nuclear power”

Once again, New Matilda gave nuclear lobbyist Geoff Russell a forum for an attack on a critic of the nuclear industry.  (Steggall’s Chicken On Nuclear Family, While Party Politics Buggers Inquiry, 16 Dec 19.) On this occasion, New Matilda was trashing a very mild nuclear critic, Zali Steggall.

So we’re “all toast” without nuclear power? This is nonsense. Even Geoff Russell knows that to get up and running the thousands of nuclear power plants that would be needed to stall global heating – would take decades. That means that, with the speed of global heating, nuclear power would be too late to make any difference. (And that’s if nuclear power really were effective against climate change – which it isn’t, when you consider the whole carbon emitting nuclear fuel cycle from uranium mining to deep disposal of wastes) Meanwhile, energy efficiency, wind and solar power, are quickly set up, quickly effective, and provide energy fuel that is genuinely zero carbon.

December 17, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media, spinbuster | 1 Comment

Journalists beware! Australia now a surveillance state

November 21, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Journalism’s future in crisis – the case of Julian Assange

JOHN PILGER: Assange’s case will define the future of free journalism,  https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/john-pilger-assanges-case-will-define-the-future-of-free-journalism,13324  By John Pilger | 18 November 2019   John Pilger describes the disturbing scene inside a London courtroom last week when the WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange, appeared at the start of a landmark extradition case that will define the future of free journalism.

THE WORST MOMENT was one of a number of “worst” moments. I have sat in many courtrooms and seen judges abuse their positions. This judge, Vanessa Baraitser – actually she isn’t a judge at all; she’s a magistrate – shocked all of us who were there.

Her face was a progression of sneers and imperious indifference; she addressed Julian Assange with an arrogance that reminded me of a magistrate presiding over apartheid South Africa’s Race Classification Board. When Julian struggled to speak, he couldn’t get words out, even stumbling over his name and date of birth. 

When he spoke truth and when his barrister spoke, Baraister contrived boredom; when the prosecuting barrister spoke, she was attentive. She had nothing to do; it was demonstrably preordained. In the table in front of us were a handful of American officials, whose directions to the prosecutor were carried by his — back and forth this young woman went, delivering instructions.

The Magistrate watched this outrage without a comment. It reminded me of a newsreel of a show trial in Stalin’s Moscow; the difference was that Soviet show trials were broadcast. Here, the state broadcaster, the BBC, blacked it out, as did the other mainstream channels.
Having ignored Julian’s barrister’s factual description of how the CIA had run a Spanish security firm that spied on him in the Ecuadorean embassy, she didn’t yawn, but her disinterest was as expressive. She then denied Julian’s lawyers any more time to prepare their case — even though their client was prevented in prison from receiving legal documents and other tools with which to defend himself.

Her knee in the groin was to announce that the next court hearing would be at remote Woolwich, which adjoins Belmarsh Prison and has few seats for the public. This will ensure isolation and be as close to a secret trial as it’s possible to get. Did this happen in the home of the Magna Carta? Yes, but who knew? 

Julian’s case is often compared with Dreyfus, but historically it’s far more important. No one doubts – not his enemies at The New York Times, not the Murdoch press in Australia – that if he is extradited to the United States and the inevitable Supermax, journalism will be incarcerated, too.

Who will then dare to expose anything of importance, let alone the high crimes of the West? Who will dare publish ‘Collateral Murder’? Who will dare tell the public that democracy, such as it is, has been subverted by a corporate authoritarianism from which fascism draws its strength?

Once there were spaces, gaps, boltholes, in mainstream journalism in which mavericks, who are the best journalists, could work. These are long closed now. The hope is the samizdat on the internet, where fine disobedient journalism is still practised.

The greater hope is that a judge or even judges in Britain’s court of appeal, the High Court, will rediscover justice and set him free. In the meantime, it’s our responsibility to fight in ways we know but which now require more than a modicum of Julian Assange’s courage.

November 18, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Australia’s media fights for freedom of press – BUT NOT FOR JULIAN ASSANGE

Mainstream Media Fights for Own Freedom, But Not for Assange’s, Sydney Criminal Lawyers, 02/11/2019 BY PAUL GREGOIRE Major Australian mainstream media outlets joined forces a fortnight ago to launched the Right to Know campaign. It aims to see public interest journalism decriminalised, and safeguards for whistleblowers enhanced.This unprecedented display of unity has seen The Guardian, the ABC, Nine, News Corp, SBS and the MEAA join forces in calling on the government to enact reforms. And this is rather significant, considering some of these organisations have been much criticised for towing the party line.

The Right to Know has six demands: exceptions so journalists can’t be prosecuted under national security laws, freedom of information reform, defamation law reform, a narrowing of the information classified as secret, protections for whistleblowers and the right to contest warrants.

Of course, the campaign was sparked by the June AFP press raids, which saw agents rifle through the house of a News Corp journalist, as well as the offices of the national broadcaster, in what was understood by many to be a warning to the media and whistleblowers to keep quiet.

However, a glaring campaign omission is the case of an Australian publisher who’s currently being remanded in the UK over charges that apply in the US, which relate precisely to public interest journalism. Yet, the Australian media has all but forgotten their colleague, Julian Assange.

Silenced by association

“The Right to Know campaign drives to the heart of the matter more than many journalists realise,” remarked Ian Rose, a member of the Support Assange and Wikileaks Coalition.

“While on the one hand, they’re right to finally be calling out the creeping incursions and restrictions into media freedoms,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers. “On the other, they don’t have the inner fortitude to stand up for Assange.”

According to Rose, there are two reasons that the Australian media has abandoned the Walkley award-winning journalist. One is that he’s “an egalitarian”, which “frightens the hell out of the ruling class”, as most of the work of WikiLeaks has been all about exposing their lies.

The second reason behind the silence is that the “oligarchs” are the “journalists’ paymasters”. And for this reason – which is underscored by the justifiable fear of losing their lives – journalists have refrained from “calling these people out”.

An excuse for silencing

Attorney general Christian Porter spoke out against the Right to Know campaign, claiming that by providing the media with the right to contest warrants could hinder criminal investigations. And he also asserted that the campaign demands could lead to national security threats.

As an example of how the media could become such a threat, Porter pointed to Assange having published leaked classified documents on WikiLeaks. The top lawmaker further set out that while this act of publication was widely condemned, the local industry still awarded Assange a Walkley……..

Neglecting an ally

And as for what the Australian media should be doing about one of its own locked away in isolation in circumstances that undermine the rule of law, Mr Rose says that it “ought to get over its jealousy and unite to support Assange”.

Indeed, the Right to Know campaign should embrace Assange’s cause, as it’s the quintessential example of the concerted crackdown on journalists that’s currently taking place across the western world. And there’s a clear correlation between his silencing and the local AFP raids.

“The way Assange is being treated is the way journalists are starting to be treated, and the way all of society will be treated if we don’t collectively call for a stop to the new dictatorial world order,” Rose warned.

And as an example of how this silencing of dissent is spreading beyond the media, Rose pointed to the recent assault on nonviolent climate activists, which has seen the application of ongoing arrests,  draconian bail conditions,  intimidatory procedures and the passing of restrictive laws……..https://www.sydneycriminallawyers.com.au/blog/mainstream-media-fights-for-own-freedom-but-not-for-assanges/

November 11, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

A travesty of justice- extradition process of Julian Assange

November 7, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Australian film-makers to join in 10th Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro May 2020

Marcia Gomes de Oliveira shared a link. 2 Nov 19

Next year, May 2020, we’re celebrating the 10th birthday of the International Uranium Film Festival in Rio de Janeiro.

These filmmakers and producers have already agreed to come to Rio 2020: Peter Kaufmann (Australia), Kim Mavromatis (Australia), Laura Pires (Brazil), Angelo Lima (Brazil), Miguel Silveira (USA/Brazil), Cris Uberman (France), Marcus Schwenzel (Germany), Rainer Ludwigs (Germany), Michael von Hohenberg (Germany), Peter Anthony (Denmark), Michael Madson (Denmark), Lise Autogena (Denmark), Masako Sakata (Japan), Maurizio Torrealta (Italy), Alessandro Tesei (Italy), Amudhan R.P. (India), Tamotsu Matsubara (Japan), Tamiyoshi Tachibana (Japan), Tineke Van Veen (Netherlands), Mafalda Gameiro (Portugal), James Ramsay Cameron (Scotland), José Herrera Plaza (Spain), Marko Kattilakoski (Sweden), Edgar Hagen (Switzerland),Tetyana Chernyavska (Ukraine), Brittany Prater (USA), Ian Thomas Ash (Japan/USA).

Rio’s 10th International Uranium Film Festival is scheduled for May 21st to 31st. Do not miss it!

November 2, 2019 Posted by | art and culture, Audiovisual, AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, media | Leave a comment

Australian government rejects call for help from Julian Assange’s legal team

Why is it that the Australian government is so helpful to Australian murderers and drug dealers imprisoned overseas, but so relentlessly unhelpful to an Australian whose only crime is to tell the truth?

Assange legal team asks for Australian government help amid growing health fears, https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/assange-legal-team-asks-for-australian-government-help-amid-growing-health-fears-20191028-p534xw.html, By Rob Harris

October 28, 2019, Julian Assange’s British legal team has requested Australian diplomatic help as fears grow for his health and mental state in a London prison.

The WikiLeaks founder has been held in HM Prison Belmarsh since his April 11 arrest at the Ecuadorian embassy, where he had lived in asylum for almost seven years.

Australian officials told a Senate estimates hearing on Thursday that diplomats had not heard back from Assange’s lawyer since writing to her last week asking that she raise with him their offer of consular assistance.

The 48-year-old is fighting US attempts to extradite him to face 17 counts of spying and one of computer hacking in relation to WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of classified Pentagon files regarding the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Barrister Greg Barns, an adviser to the Australian Assange campaign, told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald his UK lawyers on Friday requested consular assistance following a recent inquiry from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

“Julian’s lawyers are asking for the Australian government’s assistance in dealing with their client’s inhumane conditions in Belmarsh prison which has led to, and is continuing to cause, serious damage to Julian’s health,” Mr Barns said.

His supporters say he is being kept in solitary confinement and is allowed out of his cell for only 45 minutes a day. At a court appearance last week, he appeared gaunt and disorientated.

Assange was due to be released on September 22 but was told at a court hearing last month he would be kept in jail because there were “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) passed a motion at its national conference on Saturday calling for the Australian government to do “all it can” to bring Assange home and resist US attempts to extradite him.

ALA national president Andrew Christopoulos said it was an important issue about the rule of law and protecting an Australian in a vulnerable position overseas.

“This is about standing up for the rule of law, fairness and the freedom to expose wrongdoing,” he said. “The reported decline of Julian Assange’s physical and mental health heightens the need for urgent government intervention. The government has intervened in cases like this before and should do so in this circumstance.”

If the case goes to a series of appeals, Assange could remain in a UK jail until at least 2025.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne last week acknowledged the publicity around the case and that Assange had high-profile and loyal supporters. She said it was important to let the legal process run its course.

“He has been offered consular services … like any other Australian would,” Senator Payne told the Senate committee. “I think it’s important to remember that as Australia would not accept intervention or interference in our legal processes, we are not able to intervene in the legal processes of another country

October 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics international | Leave a comment

Australia’s media under threat

‘It is all part of the same disease’: media and other key institutions under threat, https://www.theage.com.au/politics/federal/it-is-all-part-of-the-same-disease-media-and-other-key-institutions-under-threat-20191028-p534z6.html, By Nick O’Malley, October 28, 2019 —The prosecution of journalists, cuts to the ABC budget and the appointment of “dud” politically connected officials to roles in key agencies present an unprecedented threat to democracy in Australia.“Media provides crucial accountability and transparency functions,” said a report by the Centre for Public Integrity, due to be released this week. “Investigative journalists often unearth wrongdoing long before any public integrity agencies investigate, for example the recent Crown Casino investigation by Nick McKenzie at The Age [and The Sydney Morning Herald], and the Four Corners investigation of police corruption in Queensland that triggered the Fitzgerald Inquiry.

“Media outlets have faced attacks in the form of centralisation of private ownership, funding cuts to public broadcasters, and potential prosecution of journalists, including News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.”

One of the report’s authors, Geoffrey Watson, SC, former counsel assisting the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said he had been shocked by how quickly the brutal type of politics that evolved in the United States and the United Kingdom, and partly led to the ascendancy of Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, had taken root in Australia.

“One day you see the judiciary attacked and the next someone in the media,” said Mr Watson, who is a director of the Centre for Public Integrity. “On the third day it might be the CSIRO, they even attack our scientists. Some people don’t recognise it as the same problem, but it is all part of the same disease.”

He said the effectiveness of the media in Australia as a watchdog was not only threatened by personal and legal attacks by the government, but by regulations that had allowed ownership of newspapers to be reduced to an effective duopoly.

The report, entitled “Protecting the Integrity of Accountability Institutions”, said that a range of institutions – including the judiciary and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the public service, integrity commissions such as the ICAC, statutory authorities such as the Human Rights Commission and the Fair Work Commission, and the CSIRO – had all been targeted in recent years by interested parties seeking to undermine their independence and public trust.

“These institutions are important not only because they ensure actual accountability, transparency and good governance but because they build confidence and trust within the Australian community,” it said. “When this confidence and trust is diminished, divisiveness and conflict increase. This impacts social cohesiveness and the economy, and the welfare of all Australians suffers. Ultimately, as international experience has shown, it is a threat to democracy itself.”

It cited as examples of interference attempts by federal ministers to influence the Victorian Court of Appeal in 2017 terrorism cases, sustained funding cuts and personal attacks on the ABC, and the de-skilling of the public service through the outsourcing of up to 50 per cent of government departments to contractors.

The report listed a series of principles that needed to be respected in order to protect the independence of the threatened institutions. They include protection from political retribution, secure and sufficient funding, secure tenure of senior officials and public access to advice to the government from accountability institutions, as well as the creation of an effective federal integrity watchdog.

The Centre for Public Integrity, a independently funded think tank, was formed earlier this year in part to champion the case for a such a body. The report comes in the midst of a campaign by Australian media, including the Herald and The Age, to defend the public right to information in the face of increasing attempts by government and government agencies to suppress information, prosecute whistleblowers and criminalise legitimate public interest journalism.

October 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

ABC challenges the validity of Federal Police raids

We don’t want any sensationalist headlines,’ AFP allegedly told ABC, https://www.theage.com.au/national/we-don-t-want-any-sensationalist-headlines-afp-allegedly-told-abc-20191028-p534ux.htmlby Michaela Whitbourn ,October 28, 2019 —An Australian Federal Police agent told the ABC it wanted to avoid “sensationalist headlines” such as “AFP raids ABC” before it seized a raft of documents from the broadcaster’s Sydney headquarters, the Federal Court has heard.

The ABC is challenging the legal validity of the search warrant authorising the June 5 raid by the federal police on its offices in Ultimo and is seeking the return of documents seized at the time. Continue reading

October 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media | Leave a comment

Australian Federal Police put their case at Federal Court hearing about their raid on ABC

No role’ for implied freedom of political communication in ABC raid decision: AFP, The Age  Michaela Whitbourn, October 29, 2019 The ABC had “no basis” for claiming the implied freedom of political communication acted as a handbrake on a court’s power to issue a warrant to the Australian Federal Police to raid its Sydney headquarters, lawyers for the police have told the Federal Court.

The national broadcaster is challenging the legal validity of the search warrant authorising the June 5 raid on its offices in Ultimo and is seeking the return of documents seized at the time.

After a series of preliminary legal fights earlier this year, the full hearing in the Federal Court commenced on Monday and continued on Tuesday with submissions from the federal police.

The ABC is challenging the warrant on four bases, including the decision to grant the search warrant, made by a Local Court registrar, fell foul of the implied freedom of political communication in the Commonwealth Constitution…….

In documents filed in court, the ABC argues the implied freedom is relevant and “investigative journalism in the public interest that relies on information provided to journalists by confidential sources … is fundamental to the maintenance of the Australian system of representative democracy” which is provided for in the Australian Constitution.  ……

David William McBride, a former military lawyer, has previously admitted leaking material to the ABC that formed the basis of its reports and has been charged with a range of criminal offences.

Mr Williams, for the federal police, told the court Mr McBride had supplied documents to other news outlets who had not published the material.

The hearing continues.https://www.theage.com.au/national/no-role-for-implied-freedom-of-political-communication-in-abc-raid-decision-afp-20191029-p535a7.html

October 29, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

A new court order is being abused in order to harass a journalist

 

YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Media’s dwindling role in Democracy Panel

Toxic “Safety” orders the latest tool to shut down free speech  https://www.michaelwest.com.au/toxic-safety-orders-the-latest-tool-to-shut-down-free-speech/, by Michael West — 25 October 2019 It’s #YourRightToKnow. There are many ways to silence the media: persecution of whistleblowers, defamation threats, contempt of court claims, lobbying of media bosses by powerful interests, injurious falsehood claims, the government’s draconian secrecy laws and police raids on journalists. Michael West reports on the latest abuse against free speech.

Today we can unveil yet another threat to freedom of speech: the Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO), a court order which is intended to help victims of domestic violence but instead is being abused as a tool to harass journalists, namely Sandi Keane, Editor of this publication.

It’s #YourRightToKnow. There are many ways to silence the media: persecution of whistleblowers, defamation threats, contempt of court claims, lobbying of media bosses by powerful interests, injurious falsehood claims, the government’s draconian secrecy laws and police raids on journalists. Michael West reports on the latest abuse against free speech.

Today we can unveil yet another threat to freedom of speech: the Personal Safety Intervention Order (PSIO), a court order which is intended to help victims of domestic violence but instead is being abused as a tool to harass journalists, namely Sandi Keane, Editor of this publication.

There have been some reports about the abuse of Personal Safety Intervention Orders in Victoria by those seeking malicious revenge. The editor of this journal, Sandi Keane, is believed to be the first journalist to be silenced in this way. She’s attended court seven times after receiving two Orders and has been threatened with a third. “An Intervention Order is now a sure fire way to shut down a story,” says Keane. “Getting an Intervention Order in Victoria is instant and cost-free (no lawyer required).”

The two essential criteria are for applicants to claim they have been threatened and are suffering mental stress as result.

An Interim Order will be issued immediately against anyone in Australia.

Sandi Keane says the applicants lied about the threats but no evidence was needed until the Final Contested Hearing some 12-18 months later.

The effect on public interest reporting therefore is chilling as most news is time-critical, so by the time the story might eventually be published, its news value might have evaporated.

There are no consequences for abusing the legal system and costs cannot be claimed by the Respondent in the proceedings.

The Applicant can also manipulate the date of the final hearing as a magistrate will only set a date for the Final Hearing if both sides have had a chance to get a lawyer; are ready for the hearing; or agree to the date.

Furthermore, court reporters cannot report on an Intervention Order unless they withhold the name of the court and names of the relevant parties.

So, not only does an Intervention Order trump an Injunction in the High Court with all its attendant costs and adverse publicity, it also ticks the Suppression Order box.

Yet the sting in the tail is that, from the date of the Interim Order, all references to the “protected person” must be deleted from any media site including social media (Condition 10).

Journalists can forget about getting another colleague to publish the story as this is prohibited under Condition 8.

Breaching the order risks a criminal conviction or prison sentence.

Journalists union, the Media Arts and Entertainment Alliance (MEAA), has met with the Victorian Attorney General with the hope of amending the Personal Safety Intervention Order Act to protect freedom of the press. In a letter to the Chief Magistrate, the MEAA wrote:

“This is a dangerous assault on press freedom, has a chilling effect on legitimate journalism in the public interest and undermines the public’s right to know.”

Editor’s Note:

Sandi Keane’s investigation was into the fraudsters operating in the pedigree dog industry. She was successful in contesting one of these orders. The unsuccessful Applicant in this case had served a jail sentence for fraud and was also found guilty of arson. The other applicant also has a conviction for fraud. These two people have taken out five PSIOs of which we know. The others were granted against people who had taken legal action against them, made an official complaint or given evidence against them.

The rise of PSIOs, and their abuse, coincides with the rise in other forms of suppression of free speech in Australia, by all three branches of government: the judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

It’s time to enshrine free speech in the constitution such as is the case in the US. You can take action to stand up for your right to know. Check out MEAA’s Take Action site here.

October 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, civil liberties, legal, media, secrets and lies | Leave a comment

Attorney General Christian Porter backs laws that restrict journalists’ reporting

October 26, 2019 Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, legal, media, politics | Leave a comment