Senate debates

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Statements by Senators

Nobel Peace Prize

1:42 pm

Photo of Stirling GriffStirling Griff (SA, Centre Alliance) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] We often talk about the importance of public interest journalism in Australia. But we must remember that such work is even more necessary and even more dangerous elsewhere. I was delighted to see this vital work recognised with the recent Nobel Peace Prize announcement. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to two journalists who have pursued the truth very much at great personal cost: Dmitry Muratov, who co-founded Russia's Novaya Gazeta, and Maria Ressa, who co-founded Rappler in the Philippines.

Under President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines has taken a dark turn, with creeping authoritarianism, increasing public corruption and a war on drugs that has legitimised thousands of killings. Ressa and her team at Rappler have fearlessly led the effort to expose the truth about what is happening in the Philippines. They have both paid a significant price for it. The government has repeatedly targeted Ressa with trumped-up criminal charges. Last year she was found guilty of cyberlibel for exposing the corruption of the chief justice of the Philippines supreme court. She could serve six years in prison and faces other spurious charge that could leave her imprisoned for decades to come. Ressa has also faced years of violent threats, including threats to rape and kill her.

How many of us would have the same courage and determination as Ms Ressa and the courage to do the right thing, even at extreme personal cost? I admire her immensely, just as I admire every journalist who fights to expose corruption, misconduct and wrongdoing, despite the great dangers they face. I commend the Nobel committee for its decision.