State government withdraws media gag order on election candidates

GAG LIFTED: LNP justice spokesman David Janetski visits the Beaudesert Magistrates Court with MP Jon Krause last year. Photo: Larraine Sathicq
GAG LIFTED: LNP justice spokesman David Janetski visits the Beaudesert Magistrates Court with MP Jon Krause last year. Photo: Larraine Sathicq

The Queensland government has scrapped a bill introduced in Parliament yesterday that would have seen journalists face hefty fines or six months jail for publishing corruption complaints against election candidates.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath introduced the amendments to parliament on Thursday, citing a report tabled by the Crime and Corruption Commission early in July.

The legislation would have imposed penalties on journalists reporting on candidates referred to the Crime and Corruption Commission in the lead up to the state elections in October.

Under the proposed changes, complaints about electoral candidates to the CCC would be kept under wraps until investigations became official, or three months had lapsed since the watchdog had been notified.

The changes would have also allowed a candidate or the CCC to seek an injunction to prevent further publication of allegations during the lead-up to elections.

Scenic Rim MP Jon Krause said the issue had been raised when the LNP was in power.

"This Labor government campaigned on a platform of transparency and accountability and they've done nothing about it ever since," he said.

"The fact that this bill even made it through cabinet is incredible, it's obviously taken an outcry by media to change their minds.

"This was a move some encouraged the former government to do but we didn't do it because people have a right to freedom of political information."

The bill would have imposed a $6000 fine or six months imprisonment for any member of the media who breached the gag rules.

It came after the LNP referred former Queensland treasurer Jackie Trad again to the CCC in July, under allegations the former minister interfered with the independent hiring process for the role of under treasurer in 2019.

Ms Trad was referred to the commission in 2019 over an investment property, and again last year over her involvement in the selection of a school principal in her South Brisbane seat.

A statement from the office of Attorney General Yvette D'Ath today announced the backflip.

"The government respects the recommendations of the CCC but given the limited time for the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee to consider the law changes the CCC seeks, the CCC Bill introduced yesterday in State Parliament is withdrawn," it said.

Read more news at beaudeserttimes.com.au

This story Crime commission gag order withdrawn first appeared on Beaudesert Times.