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A Matter of the Newspaper, Police, and the Mayor 

Sep 1, 2023

Editorial:

Last week NSW Police visited the home of our publisher Samantha Magnusson on the basis of a complaint from Hawkesbury Mayor, Sarah McMahon. They said the Mayor may want to take out an Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) on Magnusson. 

The basis of the “harassment” alleged by McMahon, in her position as Mayor, are two letters;

  1. One from Magnusson’s lawyers to Matthew Bennett, the Mayor’s domestic partner. It requested Bennett take down a fake Facebook page designed to mislead the community.
  2. The second was a letter from Magnusson and her co-publisher Gendy Parry-Okeden about a campaign of harassment, intimidation and defamation orchestrated by the Mayor.

Barely 48 hours after the second letter was sent to all members of the Liberal Party State Executive, the police were recording an interview with Magnusson at 7.30pm in her home. By the time the police left, they said there was no basis for the Mayor’s complaint, one of four complaints she has made to police about Magnusson.

You can read the article published about the incident by Michael West Media here: https://michaelwest.com.au/harassed-by-journalist-local-paper-lent-on-by-police-amid-stoush-with-hawkesbury-liberal-mayor/ 

McMahon has used APVOs to silence critics before, but this marks the first instance of police entering a publisher’s home in Hawkesbury. This is deeply concerning, as newspapers play a crucial role in asking tough questions and journalists should not fear for safety, retribution or intimidation in the course of their job. Such actions undermine democratic principles and press freedom, not to mention wasting police resources. Without journalism, waste, poor decisions, and corruption thrive.

Research indicates a clear link: as local newspapers decline, local council borrowing costs rise. Independent press serves as a check on officials, ensuring accountability, while reduced community journalism is tied to lower civic engagement.

Despite challenges, The Hawkesbury Post reports on vital issues, like the controversial $35.1 million sewerage repair loan taken out by Council, the Cornwallis levy bank collapse, and the bungled Lower Portland ferry contract. And, we will continue to do so.

Collectively we must demand transparency and resist press bullying. To this end the Council’s new draft media policy wants to cherry pick which media organisations it talks to. Society thrives on diverse views. We need to listen to and respect the view of others.

In that spirit we have launched a new initiative – the stalwart of any newspaper of its worth – Letters to the Editor. I hope you take advantage of this. We look forward to hearing about your concerns as well as the many things in our wonderful Hawkesbury district that you wish to applaud.

 

 

 




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