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Media must respect FOI, judge warns

Media must respect FOI, judge warns

Media calls for a better freedom of information system need to be matched with the responsible use of those freedoms, Supreme Court Justice Ron Sackville has warned.The message was delivered on…

Media calls for a better freedom of information system need to be matched with the responsible use of those freedoms, Supreme Court Justice Ron Sackville has warned.

The message was delivered on Tuesday during the Judge's key note address at Australia's Right to Know Conference - a conference organised by a coalition of Australian media organisations.

In the wake of the Pauline Hanson photo debacle, Justice Sackville warned the media that abuses of existing freedoms "harden opposition to the reform of laws".

"The media must bear some responsibility for difficulties in gaining liberties to access to information" he said.

He also emphasised that there is a considerable difference between the media demanding access to information from government that could impact on broader community interests, and access to the personal information of individuals who are suffering trauma.

"The right to know is not without limitation," he said.

He also acknowledged that the fact that the media has a vested interest in pushing for freedom of speech and greater access to information does not mean such requests should be disregarded - instead they should form part of the broader, community wide debate on the issue.

"It's a mistake to think that the interests of the media will always correspond to the interests of the broader community ... [however] the fact that Mussolini got trains running on time doesn't mean that punctuality should be despised," he said.

- By Zoe Lyon

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Media must respect FOI, judge warns
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