//
you're reading...
Australian Current Affairs

Australia’s media regulation plan “unconstitutional”


Former Australian High Court judge Ian Callinan has produced a damning legal opinion that says aspects of the media regulation plan drawn up by former communications minister Stephen Conroy “are very arguably unlikely to be valid under the Constitution”.

The opinion, written jointly with Sydney barrister Caspar Conde, says the broad powers proposed for a statutory regulator of all news media would be likely to have generated a successful constitutional challenge.

The proposed regulator, known as the public interest media advocate, would have been a part-time statutory officer, informed and advised by government officials, and armed with wide discretion to replace the Australian Press Council and other “self-regulatory” bodies if they failed to control the press in a way that satisfied the PIMA.

Mr Callinan and Mr Conde said the PIMA’s powers would have been subjective and imprecise.

“The legislation would allow, indeed require, PIMA through its control and review of news media self-regulation bodies to impose requirements which affect, and we would suggest may burden, freedom of communication by news media organisations that are members of that body.”

The bills to establish the scheme could be compared with “blanket bans” on political communication that had been held by the High Court to be unconstitutional in earlier cases, the opinion says.

“It would be unfortunate if the bills in their current imprecise and potentially far-reaching present form were to be enacted.”

Their opinion says the government may well have underestimated dramatically the costs associated with the scheme as the PIMA would have required substantial funds to discharge its responsibilities.

Mr Callinan and Mr Conde were commissioned to prepare the opinion by the Institute of Public Affairs, which called yesterday for the federal government to provide a clear guarantee that it would not seek to reintroduce an amended version of the Conroy plan if it won the federal election.

“The government remains committed to these proposals; this scheme was only shelved because it did not have enough support to guarantee passage of the legislation through the parliament,” said Simon Breheny, director of the IPA’s legal rights project.

He said the advice from Mr Callinan and Mr Conde indicated that well-drafted provisions were likely to be upheld by the High Court.

“Australians should be aware that we do not have robust constitutional protections for free speech. The Australian Constitution and the High Court cannot be relied on to protect us from restrictions on freedom of speech,” Mr Breheny said.

While the government has not explicitly ruled out a revised version of the Conroy plan, Kevin Rudd this week appeared to rule out changes to media laws affecting the circulation of newspapers.

Mr Rudd said Labor had “no such plans” to change media laws despite saying News Corp Australia — publisher of The Australian — owned about 70 per cent of metropolitan print circulation.

Before Senator Conroy‘s plan was withdrawn by the government, the media and communications committee of the Law Council had complained about the vague criteria governing the exercise of the PIMA’s proposed discretion.

Similar concerns were expressed by Liberty Victoria, the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

Source: The Australian – Media regulator scheme ‘invalid’
 

About Craig Hill

Teacher and Writer. Writing has been cited in New York Times, BBC, Fox News, Aljazeera, Philippines Star, South China Morning Post, National Interest, news.com.au, Wikipedia and others.

Discussion

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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

If you liked what you just read, click "Subscribe" to become a follower of the Craig Hill site. You will receive an email each time a new post is published.

Join 17,663 other followers

An archive of all my old posts

Follow me on Twitter

Most Recent Posts Post on My Blog About China: China News

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

Chinese drones now almost a daily appearance over Taiwan

The Chinese military has intensified its drone incursions into the skies above Taiwan with almost daily flights of combat and reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Taiwan’s Defense Ministry said a People’s Liberation Army (PLA) TB-001 drone was spotted crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto boundary between the island and China’s […]

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India says disengagement along disputed area with China to be completed by September 12

India’s foreign ministry said on Friday that disengagement along a disputed border area with China will be completed by Sept. 12. Both countries began disengaging from the Gogra-Hot Springs border area in the western Himalayas on Thursday, over two years after clashes at the frontier strained diplomatic ties. The disengagement comes ahead of a meeting […]

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

How to make EVs without China’s supply chain

Two electrifying moves in recent weeks have the potential to ignite electric vehicle demand in the United States. First, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act, expanding federal tax rebates for EV purchases. Then California approved rules to ban the sale of new gasoline-powered cars by 2035. The Inflation Reduction Act extends the Obama-era EV tax […]

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

Anti-India forces: Techniques and agendas exposed

In the post-cold war era, India has moved from a policy of non-alignment to a policy of multi-alignment. This means that India has friendly relations with almost all-powerful and developing nations. Today India is carving out a unique path for itself. Such an approach provides prominence and exposes India to the harmful behind-curtain activities by […]

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s Kinmen serves as a reminder of China’s aggression

Taiwan’s frontline island of Kinmen was once again in the headlines when President Tsai Ing-wen paid tribute this week to the soldiers and civilians who “operated in solidarity and safeguarded Taiwan” 64 years ago. On Aug. 23, 1958 mainland Chinese troops attacked Kinmen in a key battle that marked the beginning of the Second Taiwan […]

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

Terrorism: The glue that holds China and Pakistan together 

The father of communism, Karl Marx, once famously said — “We have no compassion, and we ask no compassion from you. When our turn comes, we shall not make excuses for the terror”. This statement summarises how terrorism and communism go hand in hand. Maoist China alone destroyed between 44.5 to 72 million lives. During […]

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

‘New normal’ across the Taiwan Strait as China threat looms ever closer

China is attempting to establish a “new normal” across the Taiwan Strait, eroding self-ruled Taiwan’s territorial control and increasing the threat of a strike with each military sortie, officials and analysts say. Beijing has ramped up military maneuvers in the 110-mile (180-kilometer) wide stretch of water that separates Taiwan from mainland China — and the […]

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

When Beijing was burning, Xi was playing personal games 

A great fire destroyed Rome for six days in the summer of AD 64. Famous Roman historian of that time, Tacitus, recorded that 70 percent of the city was destroyed and half of the city’s residents were displaced. Roman ruler Nero was accused of being indifferent, ineffective, and careless. The end result of this neglect […]

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

China would re-educate Taiwan in event of reunification

Once China achieves its professed goal of establishing control over Taiwan, a process of “re-education” of the island’s population would follow, according to China’s Ambassador to France Lu Shaye. The ambassador was speaking on French television channel BFM TV on Wednesday night, when he said a majority of the Taiwanese population actually wanted to be […]

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s economic crisis is a political sabotage

Sri Lanka’s present state confirms the famous statement: “Insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results.” Sri Lankans have been repeating the mistakes of choosing the politicians Rajapaksas again and again. It is confirmed that there were unaccounted payments that the Chinese were liberal with during project negotiations with the island nation. They were paid […]

%d bloggers like this: