Qld laws protecting journalists’ sources to be extended to CCC by mid-2023

Queensland’s Attorney-General says newly enacted laws protecting journalists’ sources will be extended to corruption watchdog proceedings by mid-2023, after the state largely fell into line with other Australian jurisdictions this week.

Shannon Fentiman said consultation with stakeholders would occur this year, with legislation to follow in the first half of next year, after the protection for journalists against revealing sources passed parliament on Thursday.

The government blocked a push by the LNP opposition and Greens MPs to amend the bill debated this week to expand the protections to Crime and Corruption Commission proceedings, with Fentiman citing the complex nature of laws underpinning the watchdog.

We have committed to extending shield laws to CCC proceedings, she said in a statement.

The newly passed laws will protect journalists from being compelled to reveal the identity of their sources as part of court proceedings. The further changes, to come as part of separate work around the Crime and Corruption Act, will determine how to incorporate such protections there.

However, such laws may come too late for a journalist and detective being prosecuted by the CCC over an alleged information leak, put forward as .

All five submissions to the bill that passed on Thursday – from the Bar Association of Queensland, the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties, Australia’s Right To Know coalition of media organisations, the Queensland Law Society and the Human Rights Law Centre – had called for such an extension.

The HRLC had also recommended the same approach should be taken for commissions of inquiry and coronial inquests.

The ACT’s shield laws allow a journalist’s privilege claim to be made with its anti-corruption body, as does one of the NSW bodies with similar powers to Queensland’s CCC. Laws in Victoria and Western Australia do not afford such protections under their respective agencies.

The bill also delivered reforms allowing police body-worn camera footage to be trialled in court to reduce the trauma that domestic and family violence victims suffer when asked to tell their story multiple times, and to reduce the chance of offenders intimidating them.

Those changes were backed by the Women’s Legal Service Queensland, which also called for better training of police to underpin the pilot program.

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