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1 month ago
Labor strongly welcomes the decision by Australian Federal Police to not proceed with charges against journalist Annika Smethurst.
The criminal investigation into Ms Smethurst should never have happened and the raid on Ms Smethurst’s home should never have happened. That raid, and the separate raid on the ABC Headquarters in June last year, put a spotlight on the Morrison Government’s contempt for press freedom, its contempt for the public’s right to know and its contempt for scrutiny and any notion of accountability.
It has now been over two years since the Government asked the AFP to investigate the unauthorised disclosure of information to Annika Smethurst.
But rather than focusing on the source of the leak, the AFP launched an extraordinary criminal investigation into Annika Smethurst.
For almost a year now, ever since the raid on her home, Ms Smethurst has had the threat of criminal charges hanging over her head.
This raid came with the personal blessing of the Prime Minister who shrugged off the extraordinary assault on press freedom by saying ‘It never troubles me that our laws are being upheld.’ The High Court has since unanimously made clear that our laws were not being upheld – the warrant authorising the raid was unlawful.
While Ms Smethurst is now free of the threat of prosecution, two other journalists still face the very real threat that they will face criminal charges for just doing their jobs.
The Attorney-General should now bring this entire sorry saga to an end by announcing today that he will not consent to any prosecution of the ABC’s Sam Clarke and Dan Oakes.

Unlike the Morrison Government, Labor believes in freedom of the press and the public’s right to know.
For several years now Labor has been voicing concerns about the undermining of press freedom by this Coalition Government and we came out in support of the Australia’s Right to Know campaign as soon as it launched.
Labor believes journalists should never face the prospect of being charged, or even jailed, just for doing their jobs.
Law enforcement agencies should never be raiding journalists just because they are embarrassing the Government.
The Morrison Government can no longer hide behind these legal proceedings, and must now commit to reform of the law that properly protects freedom of the press that addresses the concerns of the Australia’s Right to Know coalition
A strong and independent media is vital to holding governments to account and to informing the Australian public. Labor will continue to fight to defend and to strengthen press freedom and the public’s right to know.
Attorney-General Dept