Date of this Version


Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Pearson, M. (2007) Media freedom in Australia: rhetoric versus reality

Paper presented at the 16th AMIC Annual Conference / 1st World Journalism Education Congress (WJEC), Singapore, June 25-28, 2007.

Pre-print version

2007 HERDC submission

Copyright © Mark Pearson, 2007.


For some decades Australia has positioned itself as an exemplar of media freedom in the Asia-Pacific region. It has funded aid programs to train Pacific island journalists and government officials in the values of transparency and free and responsible reporting. Its political leaders have sometimes been critical of restrictions placed upon the media in other Asia-Pacific countries. However, advocates of press freedom have found troubling signs of growing government restrictions on the media in Australia in the new millennium. Despite some positive developments in the areas of defamation and confidentiality, there have been increasing shackles placed on reporters as Australian governments at federal and state levels have ramped up laws of privacy, anti-terrorism and sedition and clamped down on releases under Freedom of Information laws. This paper maps that landscape and assesses whether Australia’s downgraded press freedom status by international bodies like Freedom House and Reporters Sans Frontieres is justified.



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