Xenophon warns security laws at detriment to free speech

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon
Independent Senator Nick Xenophon AAP Image - Gary Schafer

INDEPENDENT Senator Nick Xenophon has called on Australian media to stand against new security laws passed by the Senate on Thursday.

Mr Xenophon voted against the bill due to concerns about journalists' ability to report on intelligence and security matters without fear of jail time.

The bill is due to come before the House of Representatives for a vote next week.

"Journalists and the media play a vital role in holding governments and agencies to account," Mr Xenophon said.

"These amendments will have a chilling effect on investigative journalism and free speech."

Mr Xenophon pointed to whistleblower "Witness K", a former ASIS officer who faces prosecution for leaking information about Australian spies bugging an East Timorese government building during oil and gas treaty negotiations.

"People like Witness K, who release information that in the public interest, and the journalists who report on it, deserve protection," Nick said.

"Instead, these laws are going in the opposite direction.

"We have a right to know if our intelligence agencies are misusing their powers or acting inappropriately, and journalists play a vital role in publicising that information."

- APN NewsDesk

Topics:  free speech government law security

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