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Australia Seeks To Uncover Journalists' Sources

Using Criminal Procedure To Uncover Journalists' Sources Is Unacceptable, Says Media Alliance

SYDNEY (MEAA/IFEX/Pacific Media Watch): Australia's media union condemns today's police raid on independent newspaper the National Indigenous Times to seize leaked departmental
and cabinet documents.

Just after 8.30 am, five Australian Federal Police raided the premises of the indigenous paper.

They carried a warrant to seize two documents but left with six. The leaked cabinet in confidence documents were the basis of a series of stories about government welfare reforms in Aboriginal communities.

The documents reveal a number of tougher government initiatives to promote 'good behaviour' in indigenous communities. The Australian Financial Review picked up the story yesterday and attributed NIT with possession of the leaked documents.

"Authorities cannot use criminal procedure to attain the identities of journalists' sources - which is clearly what they attempted to do today," said Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance federal secretary Christopher Warren.

"The foundation of our democracy relies on journalists' ability to report
matters of public interest. To do this they rely on the good faith of
their sources," said Warren.

The paper has received confirmation from other media outlets that the
Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet ordered the search warrant.

"The Government's attempt to intimidate this small publication is an
absolute disgrace," said Warren.

"In matters of social responsibility and welfare those in authority need
to be held accountable. This can't happen if media outlets, big and small,
continue to be suffocated," said Warren.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance is the union representing over
10,000 journalists and media workers across Australia.

For further information, contact Christopher Warren, tel: +61 411 757 668,
Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, 245 Chalmers St, Redfern, NSW,
2016, Australia, tel: +61 2 9333 0999, fax: + 61 2 9333 0933, e-mail:, Internet:



PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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