No Freedom of the Press Means No Freedom For All: Johan Lidberg’s Keynote Cries Foul of the Australian Government During Times of Crisis

by Ben Hollihan

Journalism may be facing hard times globally, but in no Western country is it more threatened than in Australia, as Johan Lidberg discussed in his keynote presentation “In the Name of Security — Secrecy, Surveillance, and Journalism” at MacEwan University on Monday, Jan. 27.

A key component of the Deputy Head of Journalism at Monash University in Melbourne’s presentation was the “democratic flu,” of which Australia suffers all the symptoms, the most pressing being lack of freedom of the press.

Lidberg referenced the June 10, 2019 raids by the Australian Federal Police on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, after the “Afghan Files” story exposed the coverup of illegal killing by the Australian military in Afghanistan.

Since September 11, 2001, a total of 80 national security laws have been passed, using valuable time and resources which Lidberg claims could have been used to battle the true threat to Australia: climate change.

Some potential remedies to this issue are for the Australian government to reduce national security laws in times of peace, and higher press engagement with the public to create awareness on invasive legislation.

Lidberg fears the worst about the future of press freedom is Australia, because there is no interest from the population to generate a bill of rights to protect civil and press liberties: “Australia is an absolute outlier in the world.”


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