Ita Buttrose’s showdown with PM on media raids
Ita Buttrose will meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison today as calls grow for an inquiry into Australian Federal Police raids on the ABC headquarters and a senior News Corp Australia journalist's home.
It comes as the ABC prepares to take legal action to seek the return of information taken in last week's raids.
Ms Buttrose will meet with Mr Morrison this afternoon about the raid, which came just a day after the AFP raided the home of senior News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst.
The raids related to ABC stories from 2017 alleging Australian soldiers may have carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan and Smethurst's report about high-level Defence and Home Affairs talks on new powers to allow the Australian Signals Directorate to spy on Australian citizens.
The ABC chair last week complained to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher about the "unprecedented" AFP raid which was "clearly designed to intimidate".
"It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week's events," Ms Buttrose said in a statement.
"Raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policy makers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account."
The ABC has two weeks to appeal the warrant and seek the return of the documents.
But if an appeal is unsuccessful or does not go ahead the AFP would be allowed to examine the documents.
The ABC has reportedly retained barrister Matt Collins QC as it prepares to mount a legal challenge.
News Corp is also calling for the government to overhaul flawed laws which allow journalists to be charged for refusing to give up their sources to police.
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann would not be drawn today on whether the government would launch an inquiry into the raids but acknowledged there were "issues to be considered".
"We recognise that press freedom, freedom of the press, is a very important feature of our democratic system," Senator Cormann told ABC radio.
"There are issues to be considered. We are open to the discussion. What form that will take, that is yet to be determined."
Senator Cormann rejected any suggestion the AFP raids were "political interference".
He said the AFP acted independently from the government "as they should and as they must".
A protest rally for press freedom will be held today outside the communication minister's electorate office.