Consistent with its long held position that sedition laws are an impediment to freedom of expression and have the potential to have a 'chilling effect', the Australian Press Council support the removal of sedition offences in s80.2 of theCriminal Code Act in their entirety.
In view of the lack of precision in the definition of a "thing" in s101.4 of the Criminal Code Act, the Council is concerned that journalists could be exposed to being charged with a serious offence should they inadvertently come into possession of material in the course undertaking their role. The current provision is unsafe and the Council supports that proposal in the Bill that the section be repealed.
Where it is practical to do so, the Council supports the proposed amendments to Division 102 of the Criminal Code Act that would bring the processes for proscribing a terrorist organisation in line with the requirements of administrative law. By ensuring publicity, public consultation,consideration of submissions by an independent advisory committee, notice and a right of appeal the proposed amendments increase transparency, public and media scrutiny and enhance the public right to know.
The Council supports proposed amendments to s102.7 of the Criminal Code Act to ensure that providing support to a terrorist organisation cannot be construed to apply merely to the publication of view favourable to a proscribed organisation.
Consistent with its earlier submissions, the Council express its concerns that this Division 3 Part III of the ASIO Act poses a threat to freedom of speech and has the potential to obstruct the ability of the media to ensure that government agencies are held to public account and that the questioning and detention practices of ASIO do not go beyond what is necessary to facilitate the investigation and prevention of terrorism.
Consistent with its earlier submissions, the Council holds the view that the National Security Information (Criminal and Civil Proceedings) Act is a threat to freedom of the press and it potentially oppressive. The Council supports repeal of this legislation as proposed in the Bill.