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New measures protect journalists and sources.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP

NEWS RELEASE

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone (02) 6277 7300  Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.ag.gov.au/ag

15 June 2007 111/2007

NEW MEASURES PROTECT JOURNALISTS AND SOURCES

Commonwealth and ACT courts will soon be able to protect confidential communications between journalists and their sources following passage of reforms to the Evidence Act 1995 by the Australian Parliament, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.

“These measures will assist in maintaining freedom of the press and the public’s right to information,” Mr Ruddock said.

The Australian Government has consistently advocated reform in this area. This was demonstrated in submissions to the County Court of Victoria in proceedings involving Herald Sun journalists Gerard McManus and Michael Harvey.

“Like many rights, the new privilege comes with responsibilities and is not absolute,” Mr Ruddock said.

“It reflects the need to balance the interests of justice and protection of the community with the public interest in a free press and the right to know.

“I urge my State and Territory counterparts to legislate on this issue as a matter of priority, because we need a national approach.

“As the matter involving the two journalists is before a Victorian Court, it is particularly important that the Victorian Government legislate on this issue as soon as possible.

“The Australian Government remains strongly committed to working with States and Territories to achieve model uniform evidence laws,” Mr Ruddock said.

Media Contact: Steve Ingram 0419 278 715