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Newspapers redact their front pages in the name of “freedom of the press”

Newspapers across the country have been printed with headlines and front cover stories blacked out in a united protest from the media industry against government secrecy and cover-up.

The campaign, entitled ‘Your Right to Know’, sees the likes of The Australian, The Observer, The West Australian, and The Sydney Morning Herald each with their front pages redacted and marked with the stamp ‘Secret: Not For Release’ in red ink.

Media companies on board demanding ‘the right to know’ include News Corp, The Guardian, ABC, SBS, Nine, and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance.

The campaign aims to bring readers’ attention to how government bureaucrats are holding back information that matters to all Australians, and calls for legal reforms to stop information being held from taxpayers and consumers.

Recent examples of information being held by the government and not shared with the Australian people include details about the abuse of the elderly in aged care homes, the government’s potential to misuse citizens’ personal data, tax law and reform, and public funds spent on individual political campaigns.

87% of Australians believe in a free and transparent democracy in which the public is well-informed, yet only 37% feel our government is giving us this.

In regards to tax law, for example, until now many Australians didn’t realise that the Australian Tax Office can go directly into a citizen’s account and take money out without that person’s consent.

In fact, over the past 20 years, reports Mumbrella, “Seventy-five laws related to secrecy and spying have been passed … which journalists argue are serving to criminalise their craft and penalise whistleblowing.”

The campaign follows raids earlier this year on the home of a journalist from News Corp Australia and on the ABC’s Sydney headquarters.

ABC’s managing director, David Anderson, told Mumbrella: “Australia is at risk of becoming the world’s most secretive democracy. We’ve seen the public’s right to know slowly erode over the past two decades, with the introduction of laws that make it more difficult for people to speak up when they see wrongdoing and for journalists to report these stories.”

“We’ve seen the public’s right to know… erode over the past two decades.”

The ‘Your Right to Know’ campaign is accompanied by research which reveals 87% of Australians believe in a free and transparent democracy in which the public is well-informed, yet only 37% feel our government is giving us this.

Lisa Andrews & Antonino Tati

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