Minister spits the dummy on media raids

NEW Communications Minister Paul Fletcher has threatened to end an interview after just two questions if he was asked again about recent AFP raids on the media.

Mr Fletcher was yesterday asked two questions relating to the raids in an interview with The Daily Telegraph before interrupting a third to state: "To be honest with you I've said as much as I'm going to say about this topic and if that's the only thing you're interested in talking about then probably I'll draw the interview to an end."


New Communications Minister Paul Fletcher threatened to walk out of the interview. Picture: Dean Lewins
New Communications Minister Paul Fletcher threatened to walk out of the interview. Picture: Dean Lewins

The new Communications Minister had been asked whether the government had been made sufficiently aware of weakness in the law that was undermining press freedom or whether there was a need for a parliamentary inquiry to discuss the issue.

He said the government was yet to decide whether it would take any steps to protect the public's right to know, and would make no commitments beyond saying the government was generally open to improving laws.

Mr Fletcher said Australian Federal Police were investigating whether public ­servants had breached confidentiality laws in speaking to the media, and that it was open to people to challenge whether the search warrants were valid under the law.

"We have not stated what steps might be taken," he said.

"In the broad it's essentially the principle the Prime Minister has stated - that if there's a need for further improvement of the laws, the government's always open to that."

On Tuesday Campbell Reid, group executive for corporate affairs, policy and government relations at News Corp Australia - publisher of The Daily Telegraph - rejec­ted the Opposition's call for a parliamentary inquiry and said law reform was required.

"The government should stop ignoring what it has ­already been told. Rather than an inquiry, a better solution would be a working group of senior politicians, media representatives and legal experts to work together to reframe legislation so it strikes the right balance between national security and the nation's right to know," Mr Reid said.