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State's journalists get partial protection over revealing sources


Shield laws protecting Queensland journalists who refuse to name confidential sources will be extended to include the corruption watchdog.

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Laws protecting journalists from identifying confidential sources came into effect in Queensland on Monday, bringing the state in line with other Australian jurisdictions.

However, the new laws fail to protect journalists who refuse to reveal sources to the Crime and Corruption Commission.

Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said consultation was under way to extend the laws to corruption watchdog proceedings by 2023.

“We know that shield laws are vital for a free, independent and robust media which supports a strong democracy for all Queenslanders and we want to make sure that Queenslanders who come forward with important but confidential information are also protected,” Fentiman told reporters.

“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.”

The Attorney-General said debate continued on the most effective way to extend the laws.

“We want to make sure that a shield law that applies to the CCC is clear, effective and doesn’t conflict with existing privileges such as the privilege of confidentiality in the act,” she said..

“We want to make sure that there are no unintended consequences.”

Consultation is open to stakeholders until mid-October.

Journalists’ union the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance has called for national consistency on journalist shield laws.

“I think that makes sense and I’m very happy to work with my counterparts on this issue,” Ms Fentiman said.

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