Victoria and WA pass shield laws for journalists

A majority of jurisdictions in Australia now have protection of journalists’ sources or are close to passing Acts. The summary of the two most recent laws in Victoria and Western Australian can be found in Civil Liberties Australia newsletter.

South Australia and Tasmania are the only states where shield laws are not imminent. The laws are a good first step. Unfortunately they differ between states and territories. Some of the Acts, like the Commonwealth Evidence Amendment (Journalists Privilege) Act 2010, employs a wide definition journalist and journalism including bloggers, while other Acts have a much narrower definition. This creates a situation similar to the different defamation laws before the 2006 uniform defamation law reform. Let’s hope the attorneys general can find a way to make the shield laws more uniform including South Australia and Tasmania. Slowly, slowly the law reform process that started in the early 1990s is close to completing stage one – shield laws (or some sort of protection for journalistic sources) for journalists in all Australian jurisdictions.