RIGHT TO KNOW: MP backs measures to protect whistle-blowers
ANY MEASURE that protects whistle-blowers and improves accountability and responsibility should be considered, according to Wide Bay MP Llew O'Brien.
As the Chronicle launched its Your Right to Know campaign, Mr O'Brien weighed in on the discussion yesterday, backing the media's right to keep the public informed.
Mr O'Brien threw his support behind one of the Australia's Right to Know proposed reforms - greater protection for public sector whistle-blowers.
"I am prepared to consider any measure that protects whistle-blowers, and improves both accountability and responsibility, just as I have done with bringing on the Commonwealth Integrity Commission," Mr O'Brien said.
"Journalists should be held to the same level of accountability and responsibility before the law as any other citizen. Through the course of their legitimate work they should be able to enjoy the same protections that are afforded to a whistle-blower," he said.
Mr O'Brien said he had found Australia's media to be "fiercely independent, reporting without fear or favour."
"So long as a story is in the public interest, is truthful, accurate and lawful, I welcome the good and bad and support the public's right to know," he said.
"The freedom of the press has always been subject to legal considerations such as laws concerning defamation, a defendant's right to a fair trial, and national security."
Mr O'Brien said he supported a free press and wanted to keep Australians safe, but he didn't believe the two needed to be exclusive.
Hinkler MP Keith Pitt said there needed to be a balance between the national interest and press freedom.
Mr Pitt acknowledged the significance of media outlets, particularly in times of natural disasters and emergencies.
"The media is also vital to the democratic process of holding local politicians to account, and enabling people to make an informed decision at election time," Mr Pitt said.
"We need to ensure that our democracy strikes the right balance between press freedom and ensuring other considerations, such as laws concerning defamation, a defendant's right to a fair trial and national security are being met."