On March 2, Federal Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy released the findings of an independent inquiry into the regulation of Australia’s media.
The Finkelston Report recommended the establishment of a News Media Council to oversee all print, radio, television and online media, including personal blogs and Twitter. The super-regulator would be empowered to impose a code of ethics, act on complaints about media content, and require media outlets to publish an apology, correction or retraction for content that caused offense. No reasons required for its decisions, and no grounds for appeal.
It sounds remarkably like the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s novel 1984. Freedom of speech, and the right to speak freely without fear of prosecution or censorship, are vital for the proper functioning of democracy.
The Finkelstein Report’s controversial recommendations are at odds with the liberty and justice we enjoy in Australia, and the government would be foolish to put them into practice.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 18 Mar 2012.