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Press freedom inquiry appears likely

A parliamentary inquiry into press freedom appears inevitable in response to federal police raids on a newspaper journalist and the ABC's Sydney headquarters.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Communications Minister Paul Fletcher are consulting with media executives concerned about the "chilling effect" of the search warrants executed in the home of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst and the national broadcaster's Ultimo office.

Mr Fletcher said the government understood the issue was making journalists anxious.

"What we want to do is approach this matter in a sober and consultative and calm fashion," he told ABC Radio.

"As the prime minister has said ... if detailed analysis reveals that there's a need for further improvement in the laws, well, we don't rule that out."

The minister noted press freedom in Australia had never been "absolute", but was weighed against factors such as national security and defamation laws.

Liberal senator James Paterson said the parliament was "well designed" to conduct a review.

"I appreciate that people want to see this acted on swiftly, but their best chance of securing the changes that they actually want is for it to follow through an orthodox parliamentary process," he told Sky News.

"That will tease out all of these issues, and perhaps uncover issues that we might not have anticipated."

Labor wants to see a joint parliamentary committee review press freedom and its interaction with national security and other laws.

Shadow home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally said it was fundamentally important to have strong national security.

"But it is also fundamentally important to our democracy that we uphold one of its most basic tenets, and that is the freedom of the press," Senator Keneally told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

"When you have people like (ABC chair) Ita Buttrose and (News Corp's) Michael Miller ... standing up and saying that freedom of the press is under attack in Australia, it is incumbent upon the parliament to take that seriously."

The Greens also support an inquiry.

"An inquiry can help us understand the chilling decline in freedom of the press, what protections are necessary for those that speak truth to power, and what we can do to restore this pillar of our democracy," Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said.

The Australian Federal Police raid on the ABC related to a series of stories in 2017 alleging Australian soldiers may have carried out unlawful killings in Afghanistan, based on leaked Defence papers.

The other raid related to a 2018 story detailing an alleged government proposal to spy on Australians.

Ms Buttrose - who described the ABC raid as "clearly designed to intimidate" -and ABC managing director David Anderson met with Mr Morrison and Mr Fletcher on Tuesday.

The ABC is weighing up legal action to get the seized documents returned.

The journalists' union has called for law reform and a Media Freedom Act.

Mr Miller, Mr Anderson and Nine CEO Hugh Marks will jointly address the National Press Club on June 26 to talk about media freedom.

© AAP 2019

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