Federal Labor says it will not support the Coalition’s foreign espionage laws unless there are adequate protections for journalists, slamming the potential impact the legislation would have on the nation’s media.
Serious concerns have been raised about the legislation, which could leave a journalist facing years in jail for receiving classified information.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said freedom of the media was “paramount in our democracy”.
“If these laws don’t adequately protect journalists doing their job, the Government needs to fix its mistakes,” Mr Shorten said in a statement.
“I won’t support laws that see journalists imprisoned simply for doing their jobs.
“I’m not sure if this is sloppy drafting or deliberately designed by the Government to curtail media freedom.”
Yesterday, Attorney-General Christian Porter admitted there were flaws in the legislation, and said the Government needed to refine its broader definition of espionage.
The potential impact of the legislation was brought to the fore last week, when the ABC revealed The Cabinet Files – thousands of highly classified and top-secret documents obtained by the public broadcaster after a massive national security bungle.
The documents, which were held by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, were left in two filing cabinets sold at an ex-government furniture store in the Canberra suburbs.
A curious customer purchased the filing cabinets, and discovered the trove of information spanning five consecutive governments up to 2014.