Ahead of Monday’s Four Corners episode screening, ABC management has indicated it will not reveal its sources.
The episode includes footage of climate change protestors outside the home of Woodside CEO Meg O’Neill in Perth.
Western Australian police have applied through the courts for footage via the ‘Order to Produce’ provisions of the WA Criminal Investigations Act. The law compels organisations to comply.
But ABC managing director, David Anderson today said, “We don’t reveal our sources, we never have and never will.”
He made no further comment and did not explicitly rule out handing the vision to police.
MEAA, which represents more than 5000 journalists and other media workers, is also concerned that the Order to Produce rides roughshod over a journalist’s obligations to protect sources.
“We urge the ABC to stand firm and not hand over the footage,” said MEAA Media Federal President Karen Percy.
“This is a direct threat to press freedom and the ability of investigative journalists to cover this important story.
“Protecting sources is sacrosanct for journalists. To reveal sources is contrary to the MEAA Journalist Code of Ethics.
“This law is an outrageous over-reach and the WA Police should not proceed with this action.”
“It’s ironic that a story looking at the extreme measures being used by the powerful to shutdown climate activism, is itself under threat by extreme measures.”
MEAA’s ABC House Committee has also met today urging the ABC not to hand over the footage and to resist all efforts by the WA Police Force to obtain the footage.
A statement endorsed by the House Committee says:
To be seen to be cooperating with the release of footage would not only be morally and ethically wrong; it would seriously damage the ABC’s reputation for creating valuable, public interest journalism and make the position of ABC journalists much more difficult. Journalism has a long and storied history of resisting legal compulsion when it is against the public interest.
We demand immediate assurances that the ABC executive will not hand the vision to WA Police.
ABC describes its episode, “Escalation” as a rare insight into the battle over the Burrup Peninsula in WA, revealing how far both sides are willing to go for what they believe in.
Disrupt Burrup Hub’s media adviser, Jesse Noakes, faces trial next month on charges that he refused to obey a WA police data access order.
“If the ABC give in to WA authorities, and betray their sources, who will ever trust the ABC with their story again?”said Noakes.