The Beagle Editor,
I was somewhat taken aback by Dr Mike Kelly’s claims that “Labor supports freedom of the press” & that his aim is to “ensure security measures are balanced with the protection of civil liberties” (“Punishing the truth”, Bega District News, July 30th).
Both are no more than empty, self-serving “motherhood” statements in my view.
What does “freedom of the press” actually mean: the right to publish anything & everything without consequence, even if it may jeopardise the security of our country? Hardly.
While “freedom of the press” might be a noble aspiration, it surely is no different to any other “freedom” in our society, in that it comes with responsibilities. And, if journalists or editors breach the law, then they are surely not meeting their responsibilities.
The recent raids by the Australian Federal Police highlight this conflict & draw attention to the media’s oft-claimed defence of its actions on the basis of “the public’s right to know”. Well, the fact is that the public only has a right know what our politicians say they can know by virtue of the laws they impose on us.
So, if a journalist or editor publishes information contrary to the law, they are breaking the law & should face the consequences, just like everyone-else. Of course, if our community thinks that journalists, their editors & whistle-blowers for that matter, should be able to expose criminal behaviour by government or its functionaries, then let’s change the law to allow for that. But, until that happens, the law remains the law.
By the way, Dr Kelly neglected to mention that in conducting its recent raids on the ABC & Annika Smethhurst, the Federal Police were simply doing their job & upholding the law, whilst most of those laws were passed in our parliament with the support of the Labor Party.
As far as “balancing security measures with civil liberties” is concerned, I’m convinced Dr Kelly must be joking. Exactly what “civil liberties” does Dr Kelly think that the average citizen has, in particular when it comes to matters of “security”? Perhaps we should ask Bernard Collaery & Witness “K”, currently being persecuted, in secret, by the federal government?
And perhaps Dr Kelly could help us understand exactly what rights we supposedly have. What is the benefit of an Australian passport? What does our government “guarantee” that it will do to protect our rights as “citizens”?
If you are a popular soccer player imprisoned in a foreign place, our government will bend-over backwards to secure your release & then stand next to you in the Prime Minister’s office to share the country’s celebrations on your return.
If you are just a half-smart young adventurer called David Hicks, in the wrong place at the wrong time, & who winds-up being tortured in a CIA-run prison in Cuba, then you are definitely on your own.
If you are an Australian journalist & publisher named Julian Assange, who published details of war crimes perpetrated by ”our special friend” the United States, you’re also on your own. Even you own kind will turn their precious unprincipled backs on you, just as surely as they forget about the perpetrators of the real crimes.
The fact that Assange is being pursued by “our special friend” for allegedly breaking one of its “global laws” that it claims applies to every person on the planet, apparently means absolutely nothing to our government when it comes to defending his rights as an Australian citizen, let alone his alleged rights as a journalist.
I haven’t heard Dr Kelly or his Labor Party pals mutter a word of concern for Mr Assange.
Julian should have been a soccer player & Dr Kelly should be a politician.