ANNUAL PRESS FREEDOM MEDIA DINNER
Ms VIRGINIA JUDGE
(Strathfield—Parliamentary Secretary) [2.04 p.m.]: I recently had the great pleasure to attend the annual Press Freedom Media Dinner and the launch of the 2008 Press Freedom Report, which was hosted by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance and the Walkley Foundation for Journalism. A number of fine young journalists work in my electorate at the local newspapers, the Inner West Weekly,
the Inner West Courier
and the Scene
. The dinner united a broad range of people from the media, as well as other areas directly and indirectly related to the press, to highlight the important role of journalists and the media in upholding a notion of democracy and the great lengths they go to in delivering international and local news to keep the public informed.
Many journalists brave death or jail to hold those in power accountable to the people of a society. The event also featured the launch of the 2008 Press Freedom Report, which contained a retrospective analysis of issues encountered by the Australian media in the past year. The host on the night was Julia Zemiro, SBS host of programs RocKwiz
and the Jonathan Coleman Experience
. I also had the pleasure of listening to the guest speaker for the evening, Michael Elliot, who is the international editor of Time
magazine. This Walkley Foundation for Journalism event reinforced to me how fortunate we are to live in a liberal society where journalists have freedom of speech and expression, without repercussion. The event shed light on this issue, as it was reported:
An astonishing 200 journalists and media workers have been killed over the past five years in the Asia Pacific region alone.
Clearly, the freedoms we take for granted are under threat in many countries. This event addressed support that is needed by journalists who operate under threat. The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has taken up the responsibility of protecting these courageous journalists throughout the Asia-Pacific region with the Alliance Safety and Solidarity Appeal. The alliance advocates that the health of Australian democracy is intimately bound to a media landscape offering the widest possible array of voices. Hear! Hear! I commend the alliance for upholding the rights and safety of these bold journalists who dare to go where others will not. The number of attacks on journalists in the Asia-Pacific region is astounding. In 2007 31 journalists and media staff were killed in the region, so the Asia-Pacific region is a very dangerous area. Many were killed in Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The alarming number of deaths has highlighted the insecurity of these regions. These figures do not include the journalists who have been reported missing and those whose whereabouts still remain unknown.
Let us not forget the hardworking and courageous journalists who suffered during the uprising in Nepal. The alliance has taken on board a project to raise funds to assist children of journalists killed in Nepal. Those journalists were caught up in the violent struggle between government forces and insurgent groups. Through the alliance Safety and Solidarity Appeal the alliance is developing a project to support the education of children of the journalists killed in Nepal. The first stage is expected to provide 28 families with assistance. The appeal will also fund a report about the long-term effects on the families and provide strategies for assistance in the future. I commend the alliance for the project, which will make a great difference to the lives of these people. Obviously, the family members who were killed cannot be replaced, but hopefully the children will be provided with opportunities.
Another important event I recently attended in Parliament House was called "Don't Trade Lives". It is an important initiative of World Vision to create awareness of, and end the suffering caused by, human trafficking. Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia, was one of the guest speakers. Last year marked the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery by the British Parliament, following a campaign by reformist parliamentarian William Wilberforce. In the twenty-first century we are entitled to think that slavery no longer exists. Sadly, however, this is not the case. [Time expired.