Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie’s first Private Member’s Bill providing limited protection for journalists from criminal charges for refusing to reveal their sources passed the House of Representatives unopposed today.
Mr Wilkie said it was unusual for a Private Member’s Bill to pass through the House at all, let alone so quickly.
“What this demonstrates is that the new Parliament is working,” Mr Wilkie said.
“In this case at least, commonsense and the public interest are genuinely being considered above party politics to produce constructive legislative outcomes.”
Mr Wilkie’s bill, the Evidence Amendment (Journalists’ Privilege Bill) Bill 2010, was passed unanimously by the House of Representatives and will now be considered by the Senate.
The Australian Journalists Association Code of Ethics requires media journalists working in Australia to protect their sources if they have accepted information on the condition of anonymity.
Mr Wilkie’s bill will give journalists the legal protection they require to follow their Code of Ethics.
Mr Wilkie said that the unique situation in the House of Representatives was achieving results for voters who were disappointed with the major parties.
“In August, we saw an unprecedented number of voters dissatisfied with the major parties choosing to vote for Independents or minor parties,” Mr Wilkie said.
“The simple fact that my bill was passed, and passed so quickly, shows that their voice is being heard and that their interests are being represented.”