Fugitive Australian journalist Shane Dowling (me) has been on the run since the 3rd of September 2021, in Queensland, from an arrest warrant issued by Justice Kelly Rees in the NSW Supreme Court on behalf of Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network and Seven West Media. Given that, it should be no surprise that Australia has dropped from #25 to #39 in just 12 months on the World Press Freedom Index.
This should be an election issue as the federal government has terrorised not just whistleblowers over the last few years but has also targeted journalists who are meant to keep the government accountable.
The Index is from Reporters Without Borders which issued a press release a few days ago that starts off:
Press freedom is fragile in this island-continent of 26 million people, where ultra-concentration of media ownership, combined with growing official pressure, endanger public-interest journalism.
Two giant firms dominate the media landscape, making Australia’s media landscape one of the most concentrated in the world.
The executives of the big media companies maintain close ties to political leaders, which fuels doubts about the editorial independence of the outlets they own. In 2021, a Senate committee confirmed the existence of a growing culture of secrecy by the administration vis-à-vis the press, of informal pressure not to reveal certain matters, and of intimidation of whistle-blowers under the pretext of protecting national security.
Australia has ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Many of the country’s states and territories ensure protection of press freedom. However, Australia’s Constitution does not contain an explicit clause to this effect. This causes growing problems, especially because some states are showing draconian tendencies concerning the free practice of journalism. (Click here to read more) (Click here to see the World Press Freedom index)
Reporters Without Borders never surveyed me and I wonder how many independent journalists they surveyed because I have no doubt the situation in Australia is much worse than their index ratings say.
It must be noted that Australia has also dropped in global corruption rankings. The Conversation reported in January 2022:
In a worrying sign, Australia has plummeted in Transparency International’s latest Corruption Perceptions Index – the world’s most widely cited ranking of how clean or corrupt every country’s public sector is believed to be.
In the 2021 index released today, Australia has repeated its largest-ever annual drop – falling four points on the 100-point scale, from 77 to 73. Zero is considered highly corrupt, while a score of 100 is very clean.
Overall, Australia has dropped 12 points on the index since 2012, more than any OECD country apart from Hungary, which also fell 12 points. Australia’s rate of decline is also similar or steeper than other countries with far worse issues, including Cyprus, Lebanon, Syria and Venezuela.
It’s a clear sign Australia has missed a huge chance to correct our failing anti-corruption reputation. And this will likely continue to fall unless integrity policies are turned around at this year’s federal election. (Click here to read more)
My personal situation isn’t with the federal government but with the state of NSW judiciary/government, but now I am in Qld and have been since November 2019, it has become at least a State v State issue. But I would also argue it is a national issue as national laws have almost certainly been broken by the ongoing harassment such as the threatening phone calls I received from someone who was almost certainly in NSW impersonating an NSW Supreme Court employee. The harassment has crossed state lines which is a federal offence.
I published an article on the 5th of September 2021 after the arrest warrant was issued against me on the 3rd of September 2021 titled “Queensland journalist Shane Dowling by the NSW Supreme Court on behalf of Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network and Seven West Media” which starts off:
Journalist Shane Dowling (me) has been sentenced to 10 months jail by Justice Kelly Rees of the NSW Supreme Court on the instructions of Kerry Stokes’ Seven Network and its parent company Seven West Media. This is the third time Kerry Stokes’ Seven have had journalist Shane Dowling charged with contempt. The first time backfired badly and Stokes and Seven have a lot to answer for but when an old media company is having new media journalists jailed all media should be asking some serious questions.
They have issued an arrest warrant as I live in Queensland and Justice Rees and other judges refused to transfer the matter to Queensland even though I made several applications to have it transferred so I could go to court. They transferred the Capilano Honey v Simon Mulvany defamation matter from Sydney to Melbourne in 2017 so they could have transferred this matter to Queensland. This makes me a fugitive in my own country.
I am currently free in Queensland where I originate from and where I have lived since November 2019, and if I am arrested, I intend on fighting the extradition to NSW on numerous legal grounds. (Click here to read more)
In the video below I talk about my situation of being a fugitive on the run in Australia since September 2021:
The current federal government are not part of the solution but the major part of the problem when it comes to the persecution of whistleblowers and threats against journalists. The Labor Party and many independents are saying they will bring in a federal ICAC if elected but they need to go further than that to protect journalists such as myself and I haven’t seen any talk about that from any politicians or possible future politicians at this point in time.
I’ll keep driving the issue as I clearly have a vested interest in doing so as a journalist and a journalist on the run, but you should also drive the issue as journalists around the country are being threatened and intimidated regularly by the rich and powerful which impacts on Australia’s democracy and the best thing we can do is shine a light on it.
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