Don’t hand over activist footage

Don’t hand over activist footage

ABC Friends has urged the ABC to continue to hold firm against the demand by the WA Police for footage the ABC compiled for the 4 Corners program, Escalation

ABC Staff around Australia have joined calls not to break trust in the ABC. Image courtesy @MEAA

In a letter to ABC Managing Director, David Anderson, ABC Friends President, Cassandra Parkinson, said the WA Police demand for footage “poses a direct threat to press freedom and would make it difficult, if not impossible, for ABC journalists to conduct further investigative reports”. 

“Most importantly, it would undermine public trust in the ABC and seriously damage the ABC’s reputation for creating valuable, public interest journalism,” she wrote

“We therefore seek your assurance that the ABC will not hand over any footage from the program to the WA Police.”

Escalation depicted the ongoing battle between climate activists, the WA Government and energy companies over the proposed expansion of a massive gas project on WA’s Burrup Peninsula. It presented data showing that climate activists across Australia are increasingly being charged with serious offences. More than twenty of those charges have been directed towards a small group of Perth activists called Disrupt Burrup Hub.

The program provided a rare insight from the ABC crew being embedded with the climate activists as they planned their campaign and were subsequently arrested outside the Woodside CEO’s home.

Cassandra said that handing over the footage would contravene the ABC’s undertaking to the group that the identities of people in the group not involved on the day would be kept anonymous. 

“Multiple people attended Disrupt Burrup Hub campaign events that were filmed by Four Corners on the explicit proviso that they not be identified or featured on camera in the program,” Burrup Hub media advisor Jesse Noakes said.

ABC Friends has also written to the WA Minister for Police and the WA Premier to express our concerns and request that the WA Police not proceed with this action.

The ABC has not agreed to provide any footage, with David Anderson saying, “We don’t reveal our sources, we never have and never will.” However, he did not explicitly rule out handing the vision to the police.

ABC Friends is gravely concerned by this attack on press freedom and will continue to monitor the situation.

Read ABC Friends’ letter to David Anderson here.

Read the letter to the WA Minister for Police and his reply here.

Sophie Arnold
E-news Editor