Assange Continues the Spirit of Australia’s First Independent Publisher

On 5th May 2021, ABC News published the article ‘Tasmanian convict Andrew Bent’s newspaper first edition in Australia’s press freedom‘ to celebrate World Press Freedom Day

Ms Buttrose,  chair of the ABC, recently spoke at a Friends of the ABC, Tasmania event to mark World Press Freedom Day.

“What I like about Bent is that he was so gutsy. He just kept on going,” she said.

“We still have a fair way to go in Australia.”

Ms Buttrose said Australia didn’t really have press freedom enshrined in any legislative material.

“That’s what the AFP raids on the ABC were all about,” she said.

“The police can still issue a warrant and take away journalists’ notes and confidential sources.”

Editor’s Note: A pity Ita Buttrose overlooked an opportunity to mention Julian’s ‘gutsy’ efforts making authority uncomfortable by publishing the truth

Andrew Bent (1790-1851) was a London-born printer, publisher and newspaper proprietor who, convicted of burglary and sentenced to transportation, arrived in Hobart Town in 1812. Appointed as the official government printer in c.1816, Bent’s career was marked by conflict with colonial authorities and innovation in publishing. Most notably he imported the colony’s first all-metal printing press in 1823 and published Australia’s first independent newspaper soon after.

Sally Bloomfield a direct descendant of Andrew Bent said

“Bent was the first to run a newspaper without government control but not with the government’s willing consent.”

“Governor Arthur had a great talent for making enemies, and they all gathered around Bent’s paper.”

“But even though it did make quite malicious and mischievous attacks on the government, it also raised important questions about jury trial, representative governments, as well as legitimate criticisms of government policy.”

From 1825, Bent used the press to print the Colonial Times and Tasmanian Advertiser – a rival newspaper to the official Hobart Town GazetteThe Colonial Times was virulently anti-government and attacked Governor Arthur incessantly. These attacks led to charges of libel against Bent, leading to periods of imprisonment.

Other articles on Andrew Bent
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