Online Event
Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and ABC Friends, SA/NT


Freedom of the press and the role of journalists within democracies has never been under such sustained attack.  Think of Julian Assange, Witness K, Bernard Collaery, David McBride, Richard Boyle, the AFP raids on the ABC and News Corp’s Annika Smethurst. 

Quentin Dempster AM, former Chair of the Walkley Foundation and veteran journalist, broadcaster and author will canvass these threats in conversation with University of South Australia's Professor Rick Sarre. 

Quentin has joined other prominent Australian journalists in proposing a Media Freedom Act to legislatively protect journalists and their informants and sources when they strive to alert us to matters the public has a right to know about. Such a measure would not put journalists and publishers above the law, but would enshrine in Australian law for the first time specific provisions ensuring the public’s right to know.  

The United States had its Constitution’s First Amendment - freedom of the press - tested in 1971 when The New York Times and The Washington Post published the Pentagon Papers which exposed the lies behind the War in Vietnam.  With democracies like Hong Kong now fighting to retain human rights and media freedom, Quentin will explore why press freedom is under such pressure. 

Please register your interest so that we can keep you up-to-date and to send you a link to view this online event.

We encourage you to submit your questions on Media Freedom when you register.


hugh mckay

Quentin Dempster AM, is a journalist, broadcaster and author. He has worked in print journalism as Political Editor of The Telegraph, Brisbane, and as Political Editor, Presenter of the 7.30 Report for the ABC in Queensland and New South Wales. He headed an ABC-TV investigative unit in the 1990s and has covered for network TV both the Fitzgerald and Wood Royal Commissions in Queensland and NSW.

He famously once asked an incoming Queensland Premier: “What do you understand by the doctrine of the separation of powers?” after the Fitzgerald inquiry exposed widespread political and police corruption in that state. In 1986 he wrote and produced “The Sunshine System” an ABC documentary that revealed political interference in judicial appointments, electoral manipulation, politicisation of the police force, and a compliant press.

He is the author of three books: Honest Cops (1992); Whistleblowers (1997); and Death Struggle - How Political Malice and Boardroom Powerplays are Killing the ABC (2000). From 1992 to 1996 Quentin was staff-elected Director of the ABC and from that experience has become a committed advocate for the maintenance of adequately funded non-commercial public broadcasting in Australia. Quentin was Chair of the Walkley Foundation (2016 - 2019) which advocates for and recognises excellence in Australia journalism. Currently he is a contributing editor for The New Daily and a consultant to the Centre for Public Integrity.

Quentin Dempster, The New Daily, articles
Quentin Dempster, Crikey, articles
Twitter: @QuentinDempster


rick sarre

Warwick T. (Rick) Sarre is Emeritus Professor of Law and Criminal Justice at the University of South Australia.

Emeritus Professor Sarre is the immediate Past President of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Criminology (2012-2016), and was awarded Fellow status (FANZSOC) at the 2018 Annual Conference.

He was formerly the Dean of Law at the UniSA Law School 2019-2020.

Rick Sarre: The Conversation, articles   
Twitter: @stickwithricksa


Presented by The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre and ABC Friends SA/NT

While the views presented by speakers within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program are their own and are not necessarily those of either the University of South Australia, or The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre, they are presented in the interest of open debate and discussion in the community and reflect our themes of: Strengthening our Democracy - Valuing our Diversity - Building our Future.

The copying and reproduction of any transcripts within The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Centre public program is strictly forbidden without prior arrangements.