National

Raids on journalists still possible: AFP

By AAP Newswire

Journalists could still face the prospect of having their homes or offices raided, despite changes to Australian Federal Police operations.

Following raids on News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst's home and the Sydney office of the ABC in 2019 to investigate national security leaks, the AFP has put in place protocols to deal with what it calls "sensitive investigations".

As well, a "notice to produce" framework has been proposed, providing an alternative way for arguments to be presented as to why a journalist or media organisation should not produce sensitive leaked material.

But AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw told a parliamentary inquiry into press freedom on Monday the new processes did not eliminate the need for search warrants to be executed on journalists.

"There still will be some instances where it is appropriate for police and law enforcement agencies to seek a search warrant in respect of a journalist or media organisation," he said.

"For example, where there is reason to believe material could be concealed or destroyed."

While the AFP has decided against laying charges in relation to Ms Smethurst, prosecutors are still weighing up a brief in relation to the ABC's Dan Oakes.

The inquiry heard that depending on the nature of the charges against Mr Oakes, they could require the consent of Attorney-General Christian Porter.

"The attorney-general will consider that matter should it be put to him," department official Andrew Walter told the hearing.

Asked when Mr Oakes could expect a decision, Mr Kershaw said the timing of any action was up to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions.