The controversial proposal to gag media from reporting corruption allegations during election campaigns has been taken “completely off the table,” Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says.
- Ms Palaszczuk said she was not concerned about reports some of her ministers didn’t properly understand the bill
- She also maintains the proposal came from the Crime and Corruption Commission
- Opposition leader Deb Frecklington said the CCC had “never recommended any laws that would have gagged journalist”
Her vow came a day after the State Government announced it was dropping the bill — less than 24 hours after introducing it into State Parliament — amid backlash from journalists and right-to-know advocates.
“Obviously, the Government now has no intention of pursuing that and we will not be pursuing that, if we are successful at the next election as well,” she said on Saturday.
Under the dumped plan, journalists would have faced 6 months in jail or a fine if they reported on corruption allegations made to the Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) during election periods.
Ms Palaszczuk said she accepted there were legitimate concerns over the laws and she took “full responsibility”.
But she maintained it had stemmed from a recommendation from the CCC, not the Government, and said that the corruption watchdog had been consulted on the bill’s drafting.
“It was a recommendation from the CCC … this was not a Government recommendation, it was a recommendation that came from the CCC,” she said.
“Usually we are asked by the media when are we implementing the CCC recommendations — that is exactly what we were doing this time.”
‘Complete cop-out and a failure of leadership’
In 2016, the CCC recommended a new offence be established in relation to publicising allegations of corrupt conduct during a local government election period.
This recommendation was later broadened to State Government elections in the CCC’s report into former deputy premier Jackie Trad and the appointment of a school principal.
But in a statement, Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington said the CCC had “never recommended any laws that would have gagged journalists or threatened them with jail”.
“Annastacia Palaszczuk blaming the CCC is a complete cop-out and a failure of leadership,” Ms Frecklington said.
“The fact that Annastacia Palaszczuk ticked off on these media gag laws raises questions about her judgement and what she is trying to hide.”
Ms Palaszczuk denied the bill’s hasty introduction was a sign the Government was trying to introduce too many laws ahead of the election.
“No, I just think it was a sign of trying to make sure that all the CCC recommendations were put in place,” she said.
She also dismissed concerns about reports that some ministers had not fully comprehended the consequences of the bill, particularly around the media.
“Not at all. No, I’m not concerned at all,” she said.
When asked about the Local Government Association of Queensland’s suggestion the bill be amended to protect journalists, then passed, Ms Palaszczuk replied: “We’ve withdrawn the bill, the bill’s withdrawn.”