Saturday, 19 May 2007

The wild West is with us still, according to a story the national broadsheet, The Australian, has been running this week. TV broadcasters have not felt it required coverage. Which is a pity, because it is a rollocking yarn any novelist would be pleased to claim as a fictional invention.

The attorney-general (the sheriff) in WA has decided he dislikes Paul Armstrong, the editor of The West Australian (the renegade), which is one of the few metropolitan papers owned neither by Rupert Murdoch or Fairfax Media, the two giants of the Australian print media.

Due to this enmity, Jim McGinty refuses to enact legislation that would protect journalists' sources against prosecution, and protect journalists from prosecution for refusing to reveal their sources. Such laws have been in place in New South Wales for a decade, and other states are following suit.

The federal attorney-general, Philip Ruddock, "has promised" to introduce them in federal parliament. "However, these [federal] laws will mean little if each of the states does not enact similar legislation," according to Elizabeth Gosch, also for The Australian.

There is no way in the world such a situation as we are seeing in the west, could happen in either New South Wales or Victoria. I could see it happening in Queensland, though. What this shows is that the West has yet to catch up with the south-east in terms of propriety and accountability. It has yet to "grow up".

For a legal officer of the crown to behave in this way is preposterous, and should not happen in a democracy.

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