Pauline Hanson Wants Journalists To Have Permits, Amid Major Media Blackout
Australia's politicians have responded to a media campaign calling for better protections for whistleblowers and journalists while doing their jobs.
The national 'Right To Know' campaign was launched on Monday by Australia's major media outlets and featured newspaper and website front pages with heavily redacted lead stories.
Media companies want law changes so journalists don't fear imprisonment for doing their jobs and stronger protections for whistleblowers.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson responded to the campaign by calling for a licensing system, to stop a person without appropriate credentials calling themselves a journalist.
"... we've got to be very careful who we define as being a journalist. People who write a book could be classified as a journalist or those people that blog on Facebook," she told Nine.
"But I believe that people must be accountable to the public whoever they are, what position they are in."
While the idea of a licensing system has been raised before, the suggestion has been compared to media regulations in China and the restrictions placed on journalists there.
Others have questioned who would have the authority to decide who works as a journalist and who would be tasked with issuing permits.
Former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce acknowledged media freedom is vital for a functioning democracy but said this freedom isn't unlimited.
The Nationals backbencher, whose personal life hit headlines after it was revealed he was expecting a child with ex-staffer Vikki Campion, said journalists are too liberal with what they consider 'public interest'.
"To get respect around the term public interest, you've got to act in the public interest," he told reporters in Canberra.
"You can't say putting a private individual -- a pregnant woman crossing the street -- on your front page is in the public interest, which you did, and give yourself a Walkley for it."
Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she supports journalists and whistleblowers being protected when covering stories that are of the public interest.
She claimed 22 laws have been passed through federal parliament since 2017 that exist solely to serve the interests of the government.
“The truth is, those in power don’t want the public to know what they’re up to and are shutting down transparency and accountability to serve their own interests," Hanson-Young said.
“This campaign by the 'Right to Know' coalition provides many examples of wrongdoing and misconduct that would never have had a spotlight on them without whistleblowers and the protection of journalists’ sources and media freedoms."
Hanson-Young named cruelty against horses, abuse in aged care, misconduct by big banks and climate change as just a few topics covered by journalists that governments would have preferred to be suppressed.
For more information on the 'Right To Know' campaign, head to yourrighttoknow.com.au.
Contact Siobhan at firstname.lastname@example.org