RAIDS: Australian Federal Police have raided a News Corp journalist's house and ABC offices this week.
RAIDS: Australian Federal Police have raided a News Corp journalist's house and ABC offices this week. SUPPLIED

This isn't freedom: AFP raids on journos paint a grim future


JOURNALISTS may not hold the fondest of places in many hearts, but the public should fear what's to come after News Corp Australia journalist Annika Smethurst's home was raided this week and ABC offices soon after.

This isn't a column seeking your sympathy for scribes or calling on hearts to bleed.

What's happened this week is an attack on life as we know it, by our own government.

The two stories triggering the raids are both undoubtedly in the public's interest.

One, published in April last year, revealed the Defence and Home Affairs ministries were discussing new spying powers which would allow the Australian Signals Directorate to monitor Australian citizens for the first time.

The other, published by the ABC's investigations team in July, 2017, detailed investigations being carried out by the Australian Defence Force into allegations of unlawful killings in Afghanistan by our elite special forces.

Some of these incidents involved the killing of unarmed men and children.

The AFP is alleging the disclosure of the specific documents in each story undermined Australia's national security.

Under that guise, it is attempting to seize documents, computers, phones and more, to locate the sources of the leaks.

It's an attack on press freedom, at the bare minimum, and an affront to everything we as a country should aspire to.

We have every right to know what is done in our name, both here and abroad.

If that involves what may turn out to be unlawful killings in a conflict zone then we need to know that and make sure it doesn't happen again.

It shouldn't be kept hushed up in secret documents, never to see the light of day.

I'd consider giving a government the power to have its digital spies access the emails, bank records and text messages of Australians without a warrant required and with no trace much more a threat to our national security than journalists unearthing a few inconvenient truths and giving them the airing they deserve.

Sure, the government of the day may lose face from time to time, and it may even trigger investigations and further, necessary actions.

And yes, they may not get to push their proposals through as part of a broader package of legislation, wrapped up in some softer changes to distract.

But that is why it's so important that journalists are free to report on these issues of national interest, without fear of censorship or exposure of sources by our own government.

We have every right to know what our government's intentions are for us, and whether our armed forces are engaging in atrocities.

Make no mistake, the only threat here is to the ego and image of the government, and that is what it's working to preserve, not national security.

This is censorship, on a slippery slope to fascism.

This is not the Australia I know. This isn't freedom.