Groom MP John McVeigh responds to the #righttoknow media campaign for press freedom. Picture: Kevin Farmer
Groom MP John McVeigh responds to the #righttoknow media campaign for press freedom. Picture: Kevin Farmer

Middle East a lesson for McVeigh on free press

FRESH from a tour of the Middle East with the Australian Defence Force, Groom MP John McVeigh says he's experienced what happens in a country with no free press.

But national security concerns, such as arrangements around his tour and those he met on deployment, should remain secreted from the public.

It's an issue with many branches, but Dr McVeigh believes press freedom should only be restricted on privacy, national security and defamation grounds.

"A lot of the unrest over there (in the Middle East) has featured a lack of freedom for the press, and we've seen that elsewhere around the world," he said.

"So when there is a lack of freedom for the press, a lack of access for the press, the worst possible things can happen.

"But equally back home here, press freedom can't be absolute.

"I think controlling press access should only be restricted to those sorts of issues - national security, privacy and defamation."

 

 

Press restrictions have not been an issue raised locally in Groom, he said, and welcomed the Standing Committee on Intelligence and Security report due next month.

Whistleblowers, and the journalists they approach, should be protected.

"I believe in whistleblower protection.

"I don't think there should be a carte blanche approval for journalist information to be sourced without going through the right channels by any means at all.

"I think you have to respect those confidences.

"But again, there are cases in terms of national security in particular where there may be a case to go further, but that's where legal processes tend to come into place."