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Watchdog denies conflict in dropped probe after demands made to newspaper

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Brisbane lord mayor Adrian Schrinner said on Tuesday the reports were concerning.

“It would be good if the state government had a look at this,” he said.

“Freedom of the press is absolutely vital and the ability of journalists to protect their sources and not have people coming in to require their notes, and sources, that is a fundamental freedom-of-the-press issue,” Cr Schrinner said.

“We support freedom of the press, and any attempt to reduce that freedom is obviously a concern that everyone should be worried about.”

Press freedom, legal and media stakeholders have labelled the OIA’s actions in the case an overreach and said the powers could harm its work upholding local government integrity if also inadvertently undermining the work of the media.

Asked earlier if she was comfortable with the OIA using its powers against journalists and whether they needed to be reviewed, Ms Palaszczuk said she understood the state Attorney-General was considering this as part of the consultation of laws protecting journalists’ sources, launched in June.

Queensland is the only Australian jurisdiction without protections for journalists who refuse to identify sources and whistleblowers.

The consultation paper, which closed to submissions on July 13, asked for feedback on how such laws should apply in the state across court proceedings, coronial inquests, crime and corruption probes and those of other tribunals and decision-making bodies.

A spokeswoman for Mr Miles said the government knew the importance of protecting journalists and independent media.

“The Department of Justice and Attorney-General are currently considering feedback that will inform new shield laws to further protect journalists, their sources, and all Queenslanders,” she said.

The government holds no power to interfere with investigations done by the OIA. Concerns can be raised with the Queensland Ombudsman, which received six complaints about the body across the 2019-20 financial year.

The Development and Regional Industries Parliamentary Committee also holds a monitoring and review role around the performance of Ms Florian’s functions.

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