AG George Henry Brandis has announced that prosecuting journalists over spook revelations will be a mandatory political, not independent, decision. He should repeal the bad law instead.
Attorney-General makes prosecuting journalists a political decision
Attorney-General George Brandis said on 30 Oct 2014:
I have today decided to take advantage of the powers available to me under sectioning 8 of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions Act to give a direction to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions that in the event that the director had a brief to consider the possibility of the prosecution of a journalist under section 35p or under either of the two analogous provisions I have mentioned, he is required to consult me and no such prosecution could occur without the consent of the Attorney-General of the day.
Civil Liberties Australia says that all the Brandis statement does is to ensure any decision to prosecute – or not – is a political decision, not an independent decision.
Changing the ultimate decision-maker might advance political ends, but it is no extra or comforting protection for journalists or the Australian people.
In fact, cynics would think such a proviso was capable of being used to threaten to prosecute a journalist so as to “encourage” them to reveal their source.
At the very least, the Brandis statement is political interference with the DPP.
The new powers to prosecute journalists is what is wrong, not the mechanism. AG Brandis should repeal the law, which his statement demonstrates he is worried about.
– Bill Rowlings, CEO, Civil Liberties Australia