The Australian media world has been rocked by Police action against both national broadcaster the ABC and a journalist at Sydney’s The Sunday Telegraph newspaper.

The ABC’s headquarters were raided by the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”), who had obtained a warrant naming individual journalists, on 5 June 2019, the day after the AFP raided the home of the journalist at the News Corp publication.

In an immediate statement the ABC MD, David Anderson, said that the raid was “highly unusual”.

“This is a serious development and raises legitimate concerns over freedom of the press and proper public scrutiny of national security and defence matters,” he said.

“The ABC stands by its journalists, will protect its sources and continue to report without fear or favour on national security and intelligence issues when there is a clear public interest.”

The AFP said it was investigating “allegations of publishing classified material, contrary to provisions of the Crimes Act”.

A subsequent statement by the ABC’s chair, Ita Buttrose, said that the raids were “designed to intimidate” and warned the government she would fight “any attempts to muzzle” the broadcaster.

The raid on the home of the political editor of The Sunday Telegraph related to a 2018 story on an alleged secret government proposal to spy on Australian citizens, which is currently unlawful.

The journalist was served a warrant to search her Canberra home, phone and computer 14 months after she published the story, and the AFP spent almost eight hours at her home.

The raid was widely condemned, and the opposition party has demanded a parliamentary inquiry into press freedom in response to both police actions.

While the Police and regulatory bodies such as the ICO have powers to carry out raids of this kind in this country, which could in theory be exercised against the media, they are rarely used.

ICO enforcement officers raided the London offices of data analytics company Cambridge Analytica in 2018, as part of an investigation into the use of personal data and analytics for political purposes.

And the Police have in the past sought Court orders under the Official Secrets Act 1989 as part of efforts to make journalists disclose their sources, for example as part of investigations into the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

In contrast to Australia, in this country journalists enjoy a range of protections in relation to their dealings with sources, both under acts of Parliament such as the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, and under the European Convention on Human Rights.

There would usually be a chance to argue over the disclosure of information before a Judge ahead of any raid taking place.