Bill delivers on better protections for Journalists

Published Tuesday, 16 November, 2021 at 02:05 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Minister for Women and Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman

The Palaszczuk Government is delivering on its commitment to better protect journalists and their sources, with legislation containing ‘journalist shield laws’ introduced into Queensland Parliament today.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman introduced the Evidence and Other Legislation Amendment Bill which includes shield law reforms that were informed by broad consultation earlier this year.

“Shield laws are complex and they must strike the right balance between a journalist’s obligation to maintain the confidentiality of a source and the ability for the court to have access to all relevant information in the interests of justice,” Minister Fentiman said.

“The new laws recognise that a free, independent and effective media, which may need to rely on confidential sources at times, is crucial for a strong democracy.

“These laws will protect confidential informants by providing that journalists cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that would disclose their identity.

“However, recognising that in some cases the informant’s identity may need to be disclosed, the new laws allow the shield to be removed if it is in the public interest.

“While journalists’ sources are generally identified in media reports, there are some occasions when important information can only be reported through confidential sources”.

The Attorney-General said strengthening journalists’ ability to protect the identity of their sources where necessary would ensure Queenslanders can access the truth.

“The Bill recognises that modern journalism takes many forms and captures the diverse and innovative ways news and information is provided to the public,” she said.

“These laws will give journalists capacity to maintain the anonymity of their confidential sources in proceedings in Queensland courts, including the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.”

The Attorney-General said the laws will not apply to investigations and hearings of the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) with the exception of Search warrants issued by the CCC.

“While the Government acknowledges this is an important issue that requires consideration, it is complex and needs to be carefully considered in the context of broader work regarding privileges following recommendations made by the Parliamentary Crime and Corruption Committee,” she said.


Media Contact:          Inga Williams              0439 949 719