A Charter for a Free Press in Australia

The Australian Press Council agreed on the following Charter in 2003 and encouraged other organisations to adopt it.


Preamble

Freedom of opinion and expression is an inalienable right of a free people. Australia is committed to The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article 19 of the Declaration provides: "Everyone has the right of freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers".

In a truly democratic society open debate, discussion, criticism and dissent are central to the process of generating informed and considered choices. These processes are crucial to the formation of values and priorities and help in assessing and finding solutions to social, economic and political problems.

A free press is a symbol of a free people. The people of Australia have a right to freedom of information and access to differing opinions and declare that the following principles are basic to an unfettered flow of news and views both within Australia and across the nation's borders.


The Principles

  1. Freedom of the press means the right of the people to be informed by the press on matters of public interest so that they may exercise their rights and duties as citizens.
     
  2. The press shall not be subject to government licence and government authorities should not interfere with the content of news nor restrict access to any news source.
     
  3. The press has a responsibility to the public to commit itself to self-regulation which provides a mechanism for dealing with the concerns of members of the public and the maintenance of the ethical standards and journalistic professionalism of the press.
     
  4. It is in the public interest for the press to make available to the people a wide diversity of views and opinions.
     
  5. It is the responsibility of the press to protect the people's right to know and to contest encroachments upon that right by governments, groups or individuals.
     
  6. Laws, regulations and practices which in any way restrict or inhibit the right of the press freely to gather and distribute news, views and information are unacceptable unless it can be shown that the public interest is better served by such laws, regulations or practices than the public interest in the people's right to know.
 
 
 
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