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Thursday, 25 September 2014
Page: 7244


Senator LUDLAM (Western Australia) (20:06): It is unacceptable that the minister has just returned to an earlier rather childish pattern of behaviour of simply refusing to answer simple questions put in the committee stage. It is absolutely extraordinary. Thank you for at least acknowledging that I am entitled to have these views—and so are the many, many people, including the working journalists of this country who have put these questions before you. They do not get the opportunity to ask questions in the committee stage. That is my job, and I would appreciate at least the courtesy of a response to direct and relevant questions that I am putting to you. That is what this stage of debate is for. The Human Rights Commission noted—as many others did; not just journalists and their representatives—on page 14 of their submission No 28:

… the provisions deal with disclosures from ‘a person’, they have the potential to capture the work of journalists and potentially limit the right to freedom of expression under article 19 of the ICCPR. The HRC has stated that:

the media plays a crucial role in informing the public about acts of terrorism and its capacity to operate should not be unduly restricted. In this regard, journalists should not be penalized for carrying out their legitimate activities.

Senator Brandis, how is it that all of these entities who study these issues for a living could possibly have it so wrong? By what means does the government believe that the potential criminalisation of national security reporting makes our country any safer?