Newspapers across the country carry heavily redacted front pages today, as part of a campaign to protest against laws restricting freedom of the press. The initiative, which includes an advertising campaign as well as news articles, opinion pieces, and editorials ($) across major news outlets, highlighted dozens of pieces of legislation ($) which have made it harder to report on issues of public interest. The campaign advocates for six reforms to protect media freedoms, including the right to challenge warrants issued for police raids on journalists ($), and stronger protections for public sector whistleblowers. The rival media outlets joining forces for the campaign include the ABC, The Guardian, Nine, News Corp Australia, Prime Media, Seven West Media, Sky News, SBS, Ten, and the WIN Network. On Sunday Labor Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese called on the Morrison government to rule out prosecutions of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and ABC journalists Dan Oakes and Sam Clark, who were targeted by police raids in June. “People should not be charged for doing their job," he said. Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter said he would be “seriously disinclined” to sign off on the criminal prosecution of public interest journalism, but qualified that he could not give any guarantees.
Police officer promotes guns: Queensland police have given formal permission for a senior police officer to run pro-gun social media channels and a blog that reviews weapons and sometimes criticises firearms laws, reports Guardian Australia. Senior constable Corrie Dixon claims to have made income from content subscriptions and merchandise from the Ozzie Reviews blog. Dixon also reposts far-right political positions, including a video posted after the Christchurch massacre in which he complained about the “really crazy leftwing attitude [of] having freedom taken away piece by piece”.
Water shortages threaten regional growth: Critical water shortages in country towns are threatening to undo efforts to encourage people to move from the congested state capitals of Sydney and Melbourne to regional areas, reports The Sydney Morning Herald. Regional economist Terry Rawnsley said the water crisis could discourage Sydney residents from moving to country towns, and force regional residents to move to the bigger cities. The news comes as reports emerge that the Coalition government in New South Wales ignored years of warnings from Infrastructure NSW to prepare for the risk of droughts and longer-term climate change.
Australian soldier involved in protest shootings: The Department of Defence has admitted an Australian soldier was among troops firing upon a protest in Afghanistan that resulted in the death of five civilians and the wounding of six more, as revealed by the ABC. “Coalition soldiers, including an Australian, engaged the protesters in self-defence,” the spokesperson said.
Cheika steps down: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will not seek a new contract next year, after Australia’s 40-16 loss to England in the Rugby World Cup quarter-final. In a press conference announcing the decision he said he had “no relationship” with the Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne. England will next play New Zealand, which thrashed Ireland. On Sunday night South Africa defeated host nation Japan, to qualify for a semi-final against Wales, which defeated France.