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Media should not be unaccountable to the law: ATSIC

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on 20 Nov 2002

The chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC)
says journalists do not deserve special treatment when it comes to
visiting Aboriginal land.

The comments follow a court case in Darwin involving a newspaper
journalist who visited a remote community without a permit.

The magistrate found the journalist from newspaper The Australian guilty
but did not impose a penalty.

In sentencing the magistrate commented about freedom of the press and how
the permit system serves to hide what is going on in some communities.

But ATSIC spokesman Geoff Clarke says like all Australian's, indigenous
people should have the right and the power to say who can and cannot enter
their property.

The chairman says the permit system helps prevent grog runners and other
undesirable visitors.

Meanwhile, Dale Seaniger from the Community Council at Port Keats, where
the incident happened, says the journalist has received a slap on the
wrist and a dangerous precedent has been set.

"I mean this is the same process that applies to anybody else's property
throughout Australia and across the world," he said.



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