In summing up Voltaire’s views towards freedom of speech in the biography The friends of Voltaire, Evelyn Beatrice Hall wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. This is one of the great triumphs of liberalism, an ideology that, along with socialism, drives the values and ethos of the Labor party.
In a direct attack on its own values, the Labor party is pushing to enact legislation that would see the Press Council become a regulatory body with the power to to impose penalties on journalists and editors that do not abide by its standards.
As a journalism student at Monash University, in the last semester of my degree, I feel compelled to express my opinion on this issue. As students, we are taught that the Fourth Estate’s reason d’être is to act as a watchdog on the spending and actions of government, that it is a fundamental pillar in the foundation of a healthy democracy, that it keeps the bastards honest.
As students, we are taught to regulate ourselves. Media Law and Journalism Ethics are mandatory units. We are taught to seek information that is in the public interest, we are taught about the devastating consequences of defamation and libel. All trained journalists are self-regulating in this regard.
Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” The proposed regulation seems anathema to this provision.
The News of the World phone-hacking scandal precipitated calls for tighter regulation of our media in Australia. It must be understood that the scandal happened in the UK and not in Australia and that any criminal activity engaged in by journalists will be dealt with by the ample powers our police already have.
The arbitrary nature of the proposed public interest test is deeply problematic. Determining what is in the public interest has always been the domain of editors and journalists in the print media and this has worked very well. If something is not broken then don’t fix it.
The proposed methods for regulation are unconstitutional as we have an implied right to freedom of expression on political discourse. Compulsory regulation is, indeed, a slippery slope.
The current strategy to distance the Labor party from The Greens, initially pushed for by ALP power brokers Sam Dastyari and Paul Hoewes, may seem strange at first glance, however, the strategy seems to be win-win for the young Turks in the long run.
[Published: Canberra Times]
Canberrans can expect traffic delays around the intersection of Anzac Parade and Constitution Avenue when the National Capital Authority begins an eight-month road project in mid-March.
Starting on Friday, March 16, work will begin to replace and widen the intersection to cater for the future duplication of Constitution Avenue. The work will be completed in phases in order to minimise delays. The first phase will be from March 16 to 20, with the intersection being replaced. Traffic will be diverted to enable the works.
The second phase will be completed on the western section of the intersection from March 30 to April 3. Traffic will be diverted during this phase too. Delays are anticipated for the first two phases, particularly during morning and afternoon peak traffic times.
The NCA advises road users to take alternative routes. Working hours for phase one and two will be from 7am to 5.30pm Monday to Friday, and 7am to 4pm on weekends.
A 40km/h speed limit will be in place 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout all phases. The intersection will remain open for the majority of the works in the remaining phases although a short closure is anticipated one weekend at the end of the project to lay the final road surface. Temporary traffic arrangements will be advertised prior to commencement of these phases. The project is scheduled to be completed by October.
A public information session will be held on Tuesday, March 6, at 6pm at the Campbell Primary School Hall, Chauvel Street, Campbell.
Note to readers: I was the 2011 managing editor of the Monash University student newspaper — Lot’s Wife.
You can read the editions here: http://monashstudentassociation.com/Campus-Life/Lot-s-Wife/2011/Archive/
February 17, 2012
[Published: Sydney Morning Herald]
[Also published: Canberra Times]
A house that was infested with wasp after the nest that they built above the kitchen gave way. Photo: Melissa Adams
A family home in Richardson was invaded by a swarm of European wasps on Wednesday night as a nest of thousands of the insects fell through their kitchen ceiling.
Ron and Louise Goodwin were shocked to find their house overrun with wasps, which emerged from a nest the size of a large beach ball.
After discovering the swarm, the couple sprinted out of the house. Mr Goodwin, who is allergic to bee stings, was stung three times in the back as he fled. The house was fumigated late that night and the couple stayed with a friend.
On returning, they found that the fumigation had not been very successful. Their residence was fumigated a second time yesterday morning.It left thousands of the insects, many of which were still alive, littering most of the house.
”We are concerned for the safety of our three young children, who stay at the house regularly,” Mr Goodwin said. The couple contacted the landlord who was uncooperative, and told them that it was the government’s responsibility to deal with the problem.
Wasp expert Philip Spradbery is determining how best to deal with the removal of the wasps as they have spread throughout the roof. He had already removed a nest yesterday which was half buried in the ground.
European wasps are not the only creatures shacking up with Canberra residents this summer. Favourable weather conditions has meant an abundance of food resources and an increasing number of Canberra residents are sharing their homes with possums.
”Plentiful food resources in the suburbs have given young adult possums the opportunity to leave the family group, resulting in a spike in reports of possums in the homes of Canberrans,” the acting manager of national parks, reserves and rural lands with ACT Parks and Conservation, Peter Galvin, said yesterday.
Possums normally make their homes in tree hollows and when none is available, they seek out a small dark place - such as the roof of a house or garage. ”If a possum has moved into your home, blocking the entry point at night when the possum is out feeding is the only way to guarantee that it will not return,” Mr Galvin said.
Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/environment/animals/swarm-of-wasps-forces-family-to-flee-home-20120216-1tbz6.html#ixzz1moqlO1I2
Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/environment/animals/swarm-of-wasps-forces-family-to-flee-home-20120216-1tbz6.html#ixzz1moqbKx1r