Australia’s defence reporters are being denied access to senior Department of Defence officials under a clampdown imposed by new Defence Minister Peter Dutton.
Dutton took office on March 30, becoming the sixth person to hold the position since the coalition government gained power in September 2013, and it is no coincidence that the Australian Department of Defence has become significantly less transparent under his watch.
The situation has now deteriorated to the point that department staff were given new guidelines as to how it should engage — or not — with reporters. According to Kym Bergmann, editor of Australia Pacific Defence Reporter, if these guidelines are enforced (and they overwhelmingly are being enforced), no member may speak with the media without approval from the minister’s office.
Citing the guidance document, Bergmann wrote that officials were told to keep responses to media queries “as brief and succinct as possible,” limit all answers to three paragraphs regardless of question complexity, shy away from “capability-related interviews,” and instead revert to written responses.
This is an excerpt from an article republished from DefenseNews 10 June 2021. Click here to read the original article in its entirety.