From my article in The Sunday Times today:

Photo: The Sunday Times/Matthew Mirabelli

“There are thickly veiled signs that the government is readying itself to publish a legislative package that they present as the implementation of the inquiry recommendations to guarantee press freedom. The prime minister will, like he has before now, present himself as a latter-day Hammurabi of media laws. But unless the government heeds the appeal it received this week from the media community, the new laws will congeal the risks to free speech documented by the inquiry in a rapidly hardening false sense of security.

“A free press is not a right granted to journalists. Nor is it a status in the gift of the government. Free expression (which includes academic liberty, artistic freedom, freedom of opinion, freedom to acquire and share information, the right to know what the government does, how it does it and how much it spends on it) is the most fundamental guarantee to every citizen of life in an open, plural, free and democratic society.

“The notion of legislating on how that right is protected by law without including in the process the people being protected – the population at large – is nonsensical. Or it would be unless you remember the record of the people writing the laws in secret.”

Read the full article here.