Warn journalists of raids, academics say

A senate inquiry into press freedom will hear recommendations that journalists be better protected.
A senate inquiry into press freedom will hear recommendations that journalists be better protected.

Journalists should be notified of search warrants and given the chance to contest them before raids are executed, a senate inquiry into press freedom will be told.

It will be recommended that journalists and their sources are better protected and that public interest exemptions from national security laws are implemented.

The inquiry in Canberra on Friday comes after News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst was in the High Court this week challenging the validity of search warrant executed at her home in June.

Griffith University lecturer Keiran Hardy and University of New South Wales professor George Williams say the freedom of the press needs to be protected.

"Journalists should be notified of the existence of such warrants, and be given an opportunity to contest them in a judicial hearing," they said in a joint report.

The government argues journalists will destroy evidence if they're alerted to raids.

The academics also say penalties for receiving information should be significantly less than those for disclosing it.

"The definition of 'dealing' with information in the espionage and foreign interference laws should be amended," they said.

Australian media bosses were "encouraged" after meeting with Attorney-General Christian Porter in Canberra this week to discuss reform to press freedom laws.

The media coalition launched the "Australia's Right To Know" campaign last month which also calls for the right to contest search warrants, freedom of information reform and whistleblower protections.

Ms Smethurst's house and ABC offices were raided this year, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison defended but he is open to reform.

He called a parliamentary inquiry to examine the impact of national security laws on press freedom.

Parliament's intelligence and security committee will complete the inquiry and hand down its recommendations to the government in two weeks.

The media bosses will return to Canberra the following week before the government decides whether to act on any recommended changes.

Australian Associated Press