90 second statement – Canberra Airport: Freedom of the Media
Mr PITT: Yesterday was pollie Sunday, as it’s known colloquially amongst those of us who travel a lot. Arrive at Canberra Airport—check. Down the escalator—check. Temperature falling—check. Press gallery on the floor—check. I wandered past that erstwhile reporter Nicole Hegarty, formerly from ABC Wide Bay. An interview for the member for Hinkler? No. ‘That’s interesting.’ Member for Bonner? No interview. Member for Flynn? No interview. Member for Capricornia? No interview. Member for Wright? No interview. Member for Dawson? No interview. Who wouldn’t want to interview the member for Dawson?
While waiting for luggage, I continued to watch closely, and no interviews from our ABC. I thought I’d better check to see what was going on. Ms Hegarty informs me that, in a relatively recent change at the Canberra Airport, they must have one hour’s notice from anyone that intends to go there to do media, interviews and show up with cameras. This is not a new event. People have been flying into Canberra airport for sittings for quite some time, and we expect that there will be someone from the gallery there to hold the government and the opposition to account and talk about their policies.
I say to Canberra airport: don’t forget what’s in the Australian Citizenship booklet on freedom of speech and freedom of expression. People can criticise the government. I encourage it! Protest peacefully against government decisions. The idea that you will stop the media because you simply don’t respond to their inquiries is outrageous. If you’re worried about safety, set up something. This is something that happens every Sunday. It’s an important part of our democracy and it should be continued.