Freedom of the Press

Australia

Australia

Freedom of the Press 2003

2003 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

14

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

5

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

6

Although freedom of the press is generally respected, it is not expressly provided for in the constitution. In response to an outcry by press freedom groups, the government in March abandoned a proposal to criminalize the unauthorized disclosure or receipt of official information. The high court ruled in December that foreign media outlets could be sued for defamation in Australia for articles posted on the Internet, provided that the individual filing suit has a reputation to protect in the country. The novel ruling could undermine press freedom worldwide if copied by other countries. The independent Australian Press Council resolves complaints against the media. A journalist covering the detainee crisis at the Woomera detention center was briefly arrested in January, and unidentified gunmen fired shots into the home of an investigative reporter in October. Concentration of media ownership remains a concern.