Monday, November 2, 2009

Angry Keating demands changes to privacy laws

Sean Nicholls
November 2, 2009 - 12:00AM

ENRAGED by what he regards as an invasion of his family's privacy, former prime minister Paul Keating has called for the rewriting of Australia's privacy laws.

His proposal would require media organisations to gain a person's permission before publishing a photograph or a story deemed to involve their private life.

Demanding a crackdown on the way media organisations operate, Mr Keating said that, outside of official functions and public interest considerations, newspapers and other media should not be permitted to photograph or report on any person without their consent.

''Matters for which there is no public right to know ought to be the preserve of the citizenry in its privacy,'' Mr Keating said.

''That includes details of their personal lives, altercations in marriages, love affairs, compromising photographs taken of them privately without their consent. These are all matters that should be off-limits for newspapers and other media.''

Mr Keating was speaking after an article in yesterday's Sunday Telegraph alleged that his daughter, Katherine, had kicked one of the newspaper's photographers at a social event at the State Theatre and said to the photographer: ''Do you want me to throw you down the stairs and kill you?''

Through her father, Ms Keating denied the claims, accusing the journalist who wrote it of ''wilful misrepresentation''.

But her denial has prompted a furious response from the chairman and chief executive of News Limited, John Hartigan, who accused Ms Keating of lying and Mr Keating of being motivated by self-interest in his call for privacy law reform.

''Frankly, it is difficult to stomach the hypocrisy of Paul Keating,'' Mr Hartigan said.

''What we have now is a man calling for a new law so that people like him can use their wealth, power and privileged positions to avoid scrutiny when it suits them, while remaining happy to exploit the media for their own gain at other times.''

Mr Keating did not deny his daughter was angry at being photographed, but said she denied kicking the photographer and alleged that she was ''ambushed'' by several photographers at the event.

But Mr Hartigan said it was Ms Keating who needed to account for her actions. ''Her claim she neither assaulted or threatened our staff on Friday night is a lie,'' he said.

This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/national/angry-keating-demands-changes-to-privacy-laws-20091101-hrpw.html

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