Bill Has Never Meta Journalist (March 2015)


The Attorney General, George Brandis told ABC radio the newly amended bill has nothing to do with journalists.[1] Yet the word ‘journalist’ is mentioned 68 times in the newly amended Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Amendment (Data Retention) Bill 2014 (Cth). He further clarified journalists, as those working within the profession of journalism.

Our Attorney General assures the Australian public that the Data Retention Bill is to counteract terrorism and paedophiles.[2] The official Australian website on criminology research shows paedophiles do not socialise on line.[3] As a general rule a low incidence of networking among offenders only about 8% had talked to other offenders. There was also a low incidence of child pornography use among paedophiles.[4]

Journalists are called to be the fourth estate and have a duty to report on breaches within the government.[5] The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott has been criticised for, saying the bill would not have affected him when he was a journalist shows “elements in the credibility gap.”[6]

Tony Abbott claims Australian Federal Police (AFP) have advised 90% of counter terrorism includes the use of Meta data.[7] Today the BBC reported on the adeptness of the terrorists and the encryption software available.[8] It is not really clear why the government are putting forward these arguments as reasons to justify the passing of the bill.[9]

The 30 pages containing 74 amendments to the Bill were only allowed a 30 minute perusal time, before the bill was passed through the lower house.[10] The Bill provides journalist breaches are punishable by a two year jail penalty in the proposed legislation[11]

As our Attorney General pointed out, journalists are not above the law,[12] but neither are politicians. In the past decade a Queensland politician was found guilty of child rape and sentenced to jail. Whistle blower- Peter McKelvie uncovered paedophilia with UK politicians spanning decades. Not so long ago the Taliban were highly criticised by the Australian Government for their control on media freedoms from 1996-2001. Will a two year data retention really deter terrorists and paedophiles or is ‘the government one step closer to having your data.’ [13]

News Corp chief executive Julian Clarke said “the importance of protecting the public’s right to talk to journalists”. Ten Network Holdings chief executive Hamish McLennan said, “It’s good to see the government and opposition working together to achieve a sensible outcome which protects our journalists who provide a vital role in our democracy.”[14]

Although there are measures in place for journalists which now require a warrant. With the establishment of a public interest advocate.[15] According to MEAA chief Paul Murphy ‘the process will be conducted in secret’.[16] ‘Who will argue on behalf of the media to ensure the journalists sources are in place to protect whistle blowers?’ he said, ‘the worrying factor is the journalists will not know the warrant is being sought, nor the section of the Act for such investigates.’[17] The entire process will be conducted in secret’.[18]




[1] Metadata retention: dispute pushes back deal to legislate changes attorney general recognised the capacity to flush out whistle blowers yet he also supported the PM, described as a red herring.
[2] New metadata retention laws ‘about criminals, paedophiles and terrorists,’ not journalists: A-G Bran18/03/15
[3] Misperceptions about child sex offenders-Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no.429Kelly Richards- ISSN 1836-2206
Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2011
[4] (approximately 10% had used child pornography); and a low incidence of paraphilic interests (very small proportions could have been diagnosed with other sexually deviant interests such as voyeurism or sexual sadism; Wortley & Smallbone 2006). So exactly how are the government proposing this new bill will catch out these paedophiles. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, September 2011
[5] Grattan / Government-Labor deal on metadata close, but how will media organisations react?
[6] I was never worried about metadata protections when I was a journalist, says Tony Abbott
[8]How the dark web spurs a spying ‘arms race’-Frank Gardner
[9] Here it explains how simple it is to put a satellite out of action-
[10] 182A Disclosure/use offences: journalist information warrants
[11] before the bill was passed through the lower house.
[12] Tony Abbott proves he’s the new Einstein: metadata bends time-
[15] Data retention: Journalists’ union labels Tony Abbott’s defence of metadata protections ‘ludicrous’
[16] December 2014- UK Police Investigating Five Alleged Paedophile Rings Involving ‘Highly Influential’ Politicians-
[17] Data retention: Access to journalists’ records to be tougher under deal between Government and Labor Party
By political correspondent Emma Griffiths
[18] December 2014- UK Police Investigating Five Alleged Paedophile Rings Involving ‘Highly Influential’ Politicians-



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s