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Australian PM to meet national broadcaster after police raids

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SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he will meet with executives from the national broadcaster on Tuesday as he sought to calm tensions following two police raids against prominent media organizations.

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison

 

Police last week raided the head office of the government-funded Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) and the home of a News Corp editor amid investigations into two alleged national security leaks.

The raids, which police said were unrelated, triggered complaints of assaults on press freedom.

Under mounting pressure, Morrison said he will consider any proposals to improve media protection when he meets ABC chairperson Ita Buttrose and managing director David Anderson.

“If there is a suggestion or evidence or any analysis that reveals there is need for further improvement of those laws, then the government is always open to that,” Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

Australia has no underlying safeguards for free speech in its constitution. When the government ratcheted up counter-espionage laws in 2018, it added a provision to protect whistleblowers.

Morrison, who was overseas during the police raids, can ill afford to have the issue drag on, analysts say.

He wants parliament to approve promised tax cuts when legislators return after last month’s election, but some lawmakers want to prioritize amendments to protect press freedoms.

The government does not hold a majority in the upper house Senate and Morrison will probably need the support of several independents to pass his signature tax cuts.

“We should move that protection across to any investigation of journalists in the conduct of their role,” said independent senator Rex Patrick, referring to the provision for whistleblowers.

Editing by Darren Schuettler

 

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-australia-security-media/australia-pm-to-meet-national-broadcaster-after-police-raids-idUSKCN1TC0FH

 

PERSONAL COMMENT:

 

Liberal Vengeance on the ABC. 

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Obligatory we live in a literal police state.

 

But aside from that, the irony astounds me. The ABC News has been firmly biased toward the LNP for as long as I remember. Even in these past few years the sheer amount of hit-piece interviews of Labour representatives and the embarrassingly bad "he's got it firmly under control" routines for the Liberal leadership have been laid on thick with very little transparency.

 

Interestingly, national news coverage of Tony Abbot took a 180 turn in preference shortly after he publicly condemned (paraphrasing here) the "people who are really in charge of the media here in Australia" (i.e. Murdoch). I don't know if Turnbull made such a mistake so much as secured his pension, abused his position to secure a monopoly on a substantial market share of the service industry in Australia with a buddy of his and finally became less popular as his critics became louder- supposedly the LNP campaigners planned it at least months in advance.

 

Beyond that, Sky News has strong-armed its way into Australia's mainstream viewing, and has been busy at tailoring the crowd's expectations and political preferences. I'm not really worried about a precedent for attack on journalism, as Australia is quite literally a police state and any idea of freedom of press here is sadly immaterial.

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ABC is state funded, Australian Broadcasting Corporation...which routinely takes pot shots at the gubberment. Or at least when John Howard and Tony Abbot were PM respectively, they were taking shots every other day.

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