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Press freedom, national secrecy reforms on the agenda at roundtable

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Press freedom reform and a review of national secrecy laws will be the focus when federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus meets with news agencies and unions.

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The roundtable, held at Parliament House on Monday, is part of the government’s commitment to improving protections for journalists, Dreyfus said.

“I’m looking forward to a full and frank discussion about press freedom issues in Australia and further options for reform,” he said in a statement.

“A strong and independent media matters. Journalists should never face the prospect of being charged or even jailed just for doing their jobs.”

Dreyfus said the roundtable would address whether secrecy offences were gagging public interest journalism.

He flagged specific whistleblower and press freedom reforms this year after the National Anti-corruption Commission legislation passed at the end of 2022.

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has welcomed the talks, describing it as an important first step towards substantive reforms.

“There is a long shopping list of changes that are needed to protect the critical role of journalism in our democracy,” MEAA federal media president Karen Percy said in a statement.

“The steady creep of national security laws into so many facets of journalists’ work is a dangerous threat to press freedom, as is the lack of transparency around journalist information warrants.”

The MEAA is also calling for increased protections for sources and whistleblowers.

“Whistleblowers who play such an important role in working with journalists to expose abuses of power and corruption should be entitled to protections,” Percy said.

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