Attorney-General Robert Clark has today introduced legislation into Parliament to protect journalists from being forced to disclose the identity of confidential sources in court proceedings.
The legislation delivers on the Coalition’s election commitment and will provide journalists in Victoria with similar protections to those applying in New South Wales and under Commonwealth law.
Mr Clark said the shield law will protect journalists from being compelled to give evidence in court proceedings that would reveal the identity of sources to whom they had promised confidentiality.
As with the Commonwealth and New South Wales legislation, a judge will be able to override the privilege in a particular case if satisfied that the public interest in disclosure of the identity of the informant so requires.
“The introduction of this shield for journalists recognises the important role that journalists and news media play in a democratic society,” Mr Clark said.
“This legislation delivers on the Victorian Coalition Government’s commitment to enact a privilege to protect journalists from being forced to choose between revealing their confidential sources or being in contempt of court."
“Freedom of the press is vital to a democratic society and the introduction of a journalist privilege for court proceedings will add to healthy democracy in Victoria.
“These laws strike a fair balance between protecting the interests of the public in the free flow of information while providing courts with discretion to require disclosure in the public interest,” he said.
The Victorian legislation, like the New South Wales legislation, will be confined to professional journalists and will not include the amendments made by the Greens to the Commonwealth legislation, which extended that legislation to cover amateur bloggers.