Anti-terror laws and the news media in Australia since 2001 – how free expression and national security compete in a liberal democracy
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The 9/11 terrorist attacks in the United States triggered an escalation of national security laws globally, including at least 54 in Australia, with some having implications for news reporting and open justice. This article backgrounds the Australian experience with such laws at a time when the United Kingdom is in the midst of a debate over the free expression impacts of its Justice and Security Bill. It uses case studies to highlight tensions between Australia's security laws and the media's Fourth Estate role and compares the Australian and UK human rights contexts. The article asks whether anti-terror laws restricting free expression should continue indefinitely in a democracy when national security breaches are likely to remain a major issue of public concern and there is no constitutional or human rights guarantee of free expression. It suggests a cautious approach to the renewal of such laws, particularly those restricting public debate about national security and its impact on human rights.
Journal of Media Law