Law Reform Commission of Western Australia
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Publications

Project 53 - Privilege for journalists

Project No. 53

Commenced: 1974
Completed: 1980

The subject of the reference was relevant to the Commission’s reference on privacy, the terms of which included the question whether any changes in the law were required to provide protection against the disclosure of information given in confidence. The Commission’s terms of reference on privacy paralleled those given by the Commonwealth Attorney General to the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Both references required the respective Commissions to have regard to the development of a uniform privacy law throughout Australia. The two Commissions agreed that the question of a journalist’s privilege would be considered in the course of the study on privacy.

Terms of Reference

In 1974 the Commission was asked to consider the proposal that journalists called to give evidence in judicial proceedings should be given the right to refuse to disclose the identity of their sources of information.

Outcomes

The Commission had the opportunity to reconsider the issue of a privilege for journalists in a wider context when reporting in Project No. 90.

In 1994 the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs published its inquiry into the rights and obligations of the media, specifically addressing laws for the protection of journalist’s confidential sources. The Standing Committee cited with approval the recommendations in Project No. 90. To date no legislative action has occurred to specifically create a privilege for journalists to protect confidential communications.

Last updated: 31-Jan-2017

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