Australian democracy is under attack. Essential institutions that protect our democracy like press freedom, whistleblower protections and the Freedom of Information (FOI) system are being degraded leaving us more exposed to abuse of power by Government.
This year, the AFP raided the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst following her reporting about a leaked plan to allow the Government to spy on Australians. Then, in June they raided the ABC searching for materials relating to an ABC report, Afghan files: Exposing Deadly Secrets of Australia's Special Force, about unlawful killings and misconduct by Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan.
The raids are part of a larger, unprecedented attack on our democracy and the public rights to know.
Whistleblowers like Witness K are being threatened with jail time for exposing Australian spy agencies bugging the offices of Timor Leste during billion-dollar resource negotiations with our Government, and ATO whistleblower Richard Boyle is facing the equivalent of six life sentences for blowing the whistle on the mistreatment of tax payers by the Department.
It doesn’t stop there. Government is increasingly refusing to cooperate with Freedom of Information requests which expose corruption and wrongdoing.
The FOI system is an essential component of our democracy. It protects the public’s right to know and provides journalists and civil society with the tools they need to scrutinise the government and hold politicians accountable to act in our best interests.
FOIs have exposed Government held information about the serious threat of climate change to the Great Barrier Reef, issues with the rushed approval of the Adani mine’s groundwater plan, Chinese interference with the Australian Government and abuses committed against people seeking safety who are locked in detention centres.
A functional FOI system is essential for our democracy. We are working with journalists and civil society to expose the failures of the FOI system and launch a Democracy Clinic within Australian universities to assist individuals to file and pursue FOIs all the way to the Federal Court of Australia.
Donate to support our work to reform the FOI system so that journalists and civil society can access the information that is created about our government, and hold the powerful to account.
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