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Accessing information about asylum seeker boat arrivals in Australia

A man holds a placard during a protest against the Australian government's policy on asylum-seekers in central Sydney, 24 August 2013
A man holds a placard during a protest against the Australian government's policy on asylum-seekers in central Sydney, 24 August 2013

REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA) is concerned about a new protocol for announcing events involving asylum seeker boat arrivals in Australian waters. MEAA believes that both the federal government and the military commander of "Operation Sovereign Borders" have over-stepped the need to limit information to a weekly briefing and their refusal to respond to questions by citing "operational reasons".

MEAA federal secretary Christopher Warren said: "Curbing the free flow of information in a peace-time pursuit of border control is a heavy-handed approach. The decision to hold weekly briefings and to cease issuing announcements in 'real time' is an unnecessary and out-dated view to managing issues of immense public interest.

"Putting customs and immigration operations under military command, and citing 'operational reasons' for not being forthcoming, impedes legitimate scrutiny of government policy," Warren said.

"MEAA remains concerned about media access to detention centres and believes the new government should remove restraints on reporting any and all aspects of the asylum seeker issue," Warren said. MEAA outlined its concerns in a 2013 press freedom report.

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