Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien spoke in parliament about the importance of regional journalists.
Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien spoke in parliament about the importance of regional journalists.

MP’s passionate speech about local journos’ value

WIDE BAY MP Llew O'Brien launched an impassioned defence of regional journalists in federal parliament this week.

Mr O'Brien, who has in the past been an outspoken advocate for press freedom and whistleblowers, said local media held up "a mirror to reflect society back on itself".

"While we may not always like what the media say about us in this house, we must always fight for their right to say it," Mr O'Brien said.

"Just as the local mayor and police officers in charge have important community roles, so do local journalists."

"They fight for better roads because they're on the scene at crashes.

"They fight for bushfire victims because they see their homes destroyed."

Wide Bay media diversity

As I said in my speech to the Parliament this week, news outlets must stick to the facts, adhere to the truth, and always hold up a shield against gossip, innuendo and hearsay. Not every situation is completely black and white though, and journalists must be free to use their judgement and be able to report freely on the information available to them. On Saturday, the editor of the Fraser Coast Chronicle, Jess Grewal, wrote an editorial on the jailing of former Fraser Coast Council Mayor, Chris Loft. https://m.frasercoastchronicle.com.au/news/editorial-why-some-will-drink-ex-mayors-pub-test-c/4088352/ Regardless of your opinion it was a very thought-provoking piece. We have a diversity of news sources across the Wide Bay electorate, including community radio stations at Noosa FM 101.3, Gympie and Cherbourg Radio 94.1FM, the ABC Wide Bay, Radio 4GY, newspapers such as Noosa Today, The Maryborough Sun, Gympie Today and Burnett Today. We have local publications including Gympie Living, Cooloola Bay Bulletin, Rainbow Beach Cooloola Coast Community News, Kandanga Rag, the Cooroy Rag Community Newspaper, Murgon Moments and Eastern Beaches News. The Gympie Times, Sunshine Coast Daily, Fraser Coast Chronicle, Noosa News and The South Burnett Times are online, southburnett.com.au and WIN News Wide Bay, 7NEWS Wide Bay, 9 News. We can look to them all making a strong and valuable contribution towards improving news coverage throughout Wide Bay.

Posted by Llew O'Brien MP on Friday, August 28, 2020

Mr O'Brien made special mention of Chronicle senior journalist, Carlie Walker, for her efforts in pushing for Bruce Highway upgrades.

"We could not have delivered section D of the Bruce Highway without the help of our local journalists," he said.

"We could not have stopped the Traveston Dam."

In a Facebook post, Mr O'Brien also pointed to Chronicle editor Jessica Grewal's recent editorial about ex-mayor Chris Loft's jailing as an example of the importance of diversity of opinion.

"Regardless of your opinion it was a very thought-provoking piece," he said.

Mr O'Brien's speech came after the State Government floated and quickly withdrew laws banning journalists from reporting on corruption allegations during the state election.