SA whistleblower laws to be debated

Whistleblowers may soon have stronger protections under a bill to be introduced to parliament in South Australia.

The Liberal government will introduce legislation to shield journalists from criminal or civil liability if they do not disclose the identity of their sources when the information is in the public interest, Attorney-General Vickie Chapman says.

"This legislation enhances the public's right to know by encouraging whistleblowers to come forward on the understanding that journalists will not be forced to disclose their identity in a court of law," Ms Chapman said.

The proposed legislation will make the default rule that journalists cannot be compelled to answer a question or produce a document that may disclose the identity of an informant.

"I anticipate it will be a very rare day that a court will deem revealing the identity of the informant is necessary to protect the public interest," Ms Chapman said.

SA Law Society President Tim Mellor said the legislation was an important step in the protection of a free press.

"Like an independent judiciary, the fourth estate of a free press is an integral part of an open and transparent society," Mr Mellor said

South Australian and Queensland are the only two states without shield laws.