October 5

Its time the Crown licensed the press


In an extraordinary call for control of the press, the Greens leader and  prominent republican  Senator Bob Brown has declared "It's time the Crown licensed the press.”

According  to a report in The Australian (3/11) by Christian Kerr, ("Brown calls for state control of media and licences for journos") Senator Bob Brown had  already called for licensing of newspapers, a move Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has refused to rule out.

And in a recent issues paper released by the government's media enquiry, the option of a statutory press Council is put forward for discussion.

Readers may be interested to see the reaction of President Bush when he was interrupted by a Greens Senator, Senator Nettle, when he was addressing the Australian Parliament.


….licence call…

The Greens leader repeated his call at an Intelligence Squared event in Sydney on Saturday, which debated the proposition "that the media have no morals".

Under questioning from the audience, Senator Brown appeared to back away from a scheme of licensing newspapers in favour of a state-sanctioned practising licence for individual journalists that could be withdrawn.

"It's time the crown licensed the press," Senator Brown said, before later calling for "some point of reference" to pull up both journalists and proprietors "who do the wrong thing in their tracks".

The motion, originally supported by an audience vote ahead of the debate, was defeated.

Although there is no express guarantee of freedom of speech and of the press in the Australian  constitution, the High Court has found that there is a freedom of political communication which is implied from the constitutionally entrenched system of representative democracy.

In the event that a government were to introduce the licensing of the press or of journalists, it would be expected that a case would be brought to the High Court to invalidate the relevant legislation.




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