The inevitable corollary of robust journalism on national security issues is that reporting will occasionally expose material that is embarrassing, even damaging, to security agencies. However, it is imperative that enforcement and intelligence powers are calibrated not only with this risk in contemplation, but also account for the more systemic, long-term risk of a chilling effect on national security reporting.
Australia’s most pressing security challenges – including malign foreign interference, cyber security, violent extremism and an increasingly assertive China – require whole-of-society responses. Public interest and investigative journalism are an important part of Australia’s capability to address these challenges. Additionally, a media sector that is, and is seen to be, free and independent, can help Australia to act with credibility and influence in the increasingly contested Indo-Pacific region.
Professor Rory Medcalf and Ms Katherine Mansted present a submission to the inquiry into the impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security.