typing is not activism….

environ mentalism, fresh articles, interviews & checkitouts from Sydney.

Australian Federal Police raid journalist.

with 3 comments

The Howard era is meant to be over in Australia, but either the Federal Police didn’t get that memo, or Kevin Rudd never bothered to send it.

The Canberra Times reports that Canberra press gallery journo Philip Dorling had his home and car searched this morning by AFP accompanied by computer experts. The trigger for their search was this story written by Dorling in June and containing supposedly confidential briefing materials regarding Australian deployment of spies in ally and trade partner nations.

From the Times article:

They seized a laptop, a computer hard drive, a mobile phone, documents and a copy of The Canberra Times from June 14, which were all taken back to AFP National Headquarters in Civic for examination.

The AFP raided Dorling’s home once before searching for the source of a leak in September 2000, when the journalist was working as a staffer for the then Labor foreign affairs spokesman, Laurie Brereton.

The editor of The Canberra Times, Peter Fray, said, “Phil Dorling was doing his job – the job of every journalist, and that is to reveal the truth”.

And Fairfax Media’s Corporate Affairs boss Bruce Wolpe said the company was “gravely concerned”.

“Fairfax Media is gravely concerned by this legal assault on one of our journalists for doing his job.

“A Federal police raid on the home of a journalist cuts to the heart of the operation of a free press, and is unacceptable.

“We have long advocated the need for shield legislation to protect the public’s right to know and today’s disturbing events show once again that enactment of a Federal shield law is imperative.”

The last time that police powers were used to seriously intimidate journalists in this way was in November 2004, when a request from John Howard’s office resulted in a raid on the home of Chris Graham, editor of the National Indigenous Times.

Obviously, Dorling has been doing his job. Obviously, the sort of abuses of power which Labor occasionally objected to in Opposition may now seem agreeable to them. Obviously, Wolpe raises a significant concern which may get further oxygen in the coming weeks – as one of the only developed countries without a Bill of Rights, the Australian government must legislatively move now – in a transparent manner – to ensure a free press. Although, obviously, they would much prefer a well-behaved press.


Written by typingisnotactivism

September 23, 2008 at 5:55 pm

3 Responses

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  1. For all their blather (in Oppostion) about press freedom & protecting whistleblowers, plus ca change. Whomever one votes for, a government still wins. And governments do not like criticism, hence the Praetorian Guard (Keelty’s KeystoneKops) still protects the Emperor, not the citizen.
    The RatKing is dead, Long Live the NerdKing.
    This is about frightening civil servants not prosecuting journalists for, without sources, journos. will be reduced to rewriting press releases


    September 24, 2008 at 1:26 pm

  2. “The Howard era is meant to be over in Australia, but either the Federal Police didn’t get that memo, or Kevin Rudd never bothered to send it.”

    Kevin Rudd never bothered to send it, definitely Kevin Rudd never bothered to send it!


    September 25, 2008 at 3:37 am

  3. clarencegirl – agreed… so agreed…. damn it.

    & epicene – exactly. thankyou for perspectivizing because that is exactly what this is about, and we should be a bit disgusted that Labor hasn’t spoken against this course of action. They have been smart enough not to claim responsibility for it, but this is the wrong action to tolerate 10 months into office. Or 10 years, a la Ratking.


    September 28, 2008 at 1:32 am

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