The Queensland Government and Opposition have jointly committed to develop shield law that protect journalists from being compelled to reveal their confidential sources. The proposal comes after the Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath withdrew legislation that would impose jail terms or significant fines on journalists who report on corruption allegations made to the CCC during state elections.

Queensland is the only state in Australia that has not enacted these laws, and this commitment has been welcomed by various groups like the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), as well as lawyers like Terry O’Gorman and Justin Quill. Without the proposed shield, journalists are exposed to prosecution for contempt if they refuse to reveal their sources.

Terry O’Gorman spoke to the Courier Mail regarding the proposed laws, stating that while these laws were long ‘overdue’, the drafting of the legislation should not be left to the government due to the risk of politicisation. The position is that the government of the day should not be drafting legislation that is likely to be utilised to criticise the government itself.

Mr O’Gorman further commented that it is necessary that any proposed legislation account for the fact that journalists should be required to disclose their sources in certain criminal cases where it is ‘in the interest of justice’.

Associations like the MEAA continue to lobby for uniform legislation at the Commonwealth level that addresses the existing disparities between state shield laws.