Journalism matters, a healthy and trusted press is an essential pillar to any democracy. Since 2019 we have recognised journalists working in Australia who produce excellent work promoting civil liberties, calling out human rights abuses and holding governments and corporations to account.
Last night, emerging from an incredibly strong field, we honoured three outstanding journalists in our Young Journalist and Open Journalist categories for Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism.
2023 Young Journalist - Eden Gillespie
Last year, Eden broke the news that officers working inside Brisbane Watchhouse had been recorded making racist and sexist comments so disturbing that the Queensland government immediately launched an investigation.
Whistleblower Steven Marshall leaked a series of audio recordings to me last year which he took while working inside the watchhouse. They revealed officers joking about beating and burying black people, referring to Nigerians as “jigaboos”, and raising fears Australia “will be fucking taken over”.
Last night Eden paid tribute to Steven Marshall and reiterated the importance of whistleblower protection and journalists being able to protect their sources. The judges agreed with Eden and congratualted her on her research, tenacity and patience in carefully ensuring the facts and working with Mr Marshall to produce this important work.
2023 Open Category - Christopher Knaus and Nino Bucci
Earlier this year Department of Home Affairs officials demanded that independent researchers alter a report critical of counterterrorism powers allowing individuals to be imprisoned for a crime they had yet to commit. Christopher Knaus and Nino Bucci broke this story with a series of articles on the government's attempts to water down and cover up this key report.
Our judges praised the determined research of Bucci and Knaus, obtaining emails through freedom of imformation, to reveal the Departments behaviour and shine a light on the injustice and inhumanity of court-ordered continuing detention orders (CDOs). Without this foresic reporting we, the general public, may never have known the Departments intentions. This is human rights journalism at its very best.
Our outstanding shortlisted journalists this year:
- Jarni Blakkarley
- Eden Gillespie
- Seb Starcevic
- Lorena Allam
- Nino Bucci & Christophen Knaus
- Cait Kelly
And then the Kakfa.......
Awarded for the most egregious public statements or acts offensive to civil liberties and human rights. The Kafka could recognise the year's most cruel and inhuman government act of the year; the most authoritarian political leader of the year; or indeed the most unhelpful media commentary by a public figure.
Whilst it has been a somewhat crowded field this year our judges determined that this years Kafka must go to the Hon. Peter Dutton MP for his commentary on the Voice.
- “if you don’t know, vote no!” – says it all.
- His arguments that we should vote no at this referendum so that he can hold another one? Or his arguments against this national voice but in favour of local and regional voices?
- Mr Dutton's general war against the AEC for not accepting a cross as a valid vote earned him addition al points; and
- Our judges pointed to Mr Dutton's general pattern of spreading misinformation and using comments that amount to a racist dog whistle.