Free speech and why you don’t have any
THERE is not much point in campaigning for media freedom under the current national yourrighttoknow.com.au campaign if Australians do not have the right to speak about issues that concern them. And they do not.
A campaign for media freedom must be based, therefore, on the public's right to know and the right of anyone to express any opinion or concern in any forum.
Even the assumed right to free speech in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights, is tenuous.
Whistleblowers were recommended for protection by Tony Fitzgerald QC, in his historic report on police misconduct in Queensland.
But Fitzgerald rightly held that such misconduct is not confined to the police.
But the Queensland Whistleblowers' Protection Act, which followed, specifically excludes protection for anyone going to the media.
And it only applies to public officers, who may only report such concerns to another public officer.
Despite token protections against victimisation, good luck with your career if you try it.
And what about people who are not public servants, but who stumble on misconduct affecting public concerns or safety?
Rainbow Beach wildlife photographer Jennifer Parkhurst was fined $40,000 and given a suspended jail term, partly, in response to prosecution sentencing submissions that her concern for dingoes involved the promotion of views which "the community cannot afford to take hold" - basically that dingoes are not the monster they are made out to be - made worse by her use of the media.
No-one else caught up in this was punished so harshly.