skip to main content

New media protocols restricting coverage of Australia's Department of Defence

Swingeing restrictions on media engagement with Australia's Department of Defence (DoD) have been imposed – or agreed to without explanation – by Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

Dutton, previously minister for home affairs, took office on 30 March as the sixth holder of the defence portfolio since 2013.

Subsequently, new guidelines on how DoD staff should engage with media, reportedly originating in Dutton's office, were widely distributed by email within the department and have since had an immediate and adverse affect on responses by the DoD's media operations centre to reporters‘ questions and routine requests for interviews with senior personnel.

According to the leaked guidelines, responses to media queries are to be as brief and succinct as possible with responses limited to three paragraphs, regardless of question complexity (although additional information could be offered on background), while capability-related interviews are unlikely to be approved and should revert to written responses.

Although the defence minister's office has not responded to questions on the genesis and content of the restrictions, Associate Secretary of Defence Katherine Jones told the Senate Standing Committees on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade in early June that the email containing the guidelines had been sent by a low-level officer within the DoD, summarising the advice that had been provided to senior leadership by the minister's office.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...