top of page

Common(wealth) Knowledge #100: 100 articles and 104 weeks

Reflecting on 100 days of 6 News' first dedicated law and government coverage.

Well, we made it. 100 articles of Common(wealth) Knowledge on the anniversary of the first edition, on Constitution Day. So, I want to take this opportunity to reflect back on the past two years of this (mostly) weekly series, and where it will go from here.

When I first proposed this series to 6 News founder Leo Puglisi in early July 2022, I was frustrated by the lack of legal literacy in the major news outlets. The focus of this series, and now GovCheck as a whole, has always been on stepping up to address issues overlooked by those outlets, and to take a different perspective on current affairs stories.

Whenever other outlets cover legal topics, they take the ‘juiciest’ parts and spin them into a story. But that’s as far as they go. But when they write articles on them they just expect you to take it as face value. To accept what they say as gospel, and move on.

Almost every Common(wealth) Knowledge article is littered with hyperlinks. As I said to my GovCheck team when we launched last year, it’s not always enough to tell someone a story. We need to offer access to legislation and any cases we cover, to allow our readers to go and have a look for themselves, if they’re interested.

All first-year law students at university must take a course on legal research, including navigating through various legal databases. Most of them aren’t exactly ‘user-friendly.’ This is why I provide hyperlinks directly to those sources, allowing you, the reader, a way to read more about a topic.

Speaking of sourcing, I’d like to point out that this series is starting to be cited on Wikipedia, starting with this page.

Perhaps the most recent example of this media legal literacy issue can be found in the previous edition, ‘Common(wealth) Knowledge #99: Bruce Lehrman and the importance of committal hearings.’

The media rushed to cover his committal trial, because he’s a hot-button issue. They heard ‘Bruce Lehrmann committal trial,’ but acted like it was a proper trial. In reality, it was a mundane, but important, screening process that was just a formality in his case.

Don’t get me wrong, committal trials are important. I spent the whole article talking about that. But the media treated it more like an actual trial, because they’d get more clicks and views, and distorting the judicial system in the process.

The other story I want to discuss is a bit older, from early 2023. ‘Common(wealth) Knowledge #38: Unions 3, New South Wales 0’ covered the High Court ruling in Unions NSW v New South Wales (No 3) [2023].

Unions NSW challenged political donation regulations in New South Wales before the 2023 state election, under the implied freedom of political communication.

On top of my quality legal analysis, this article had the benefit of not being a ‘stand-alone’ piece. The implied freedom of political communication had already been covered before then.

These articles allow the series to track trends and developments in important political and legal issues.

The implied freedom had already been discussed in relation to election advertising (#21) and party registration requirements (#29). In fact, in #30, I had predicted that this issue would come before the NSW election.

A few other trends include:

Provided that Leo doesn’t sack me from 6 News for no longer being a student when I graduate from university in August, this series will be continuing. I’ll also be integrating it more with GovCheck’s ‘Between Parkes Place and Capital Hill’ series to offer more comprehensive coverage of law and government issues in Australia.

There will also be a couple of changes coming in the second half of this year for GovCheck content, including Common(wealth) Knowledge. This will include more dedicated coverage for criminal law. After all, the lack of legal literacy in outlets covering those stories was central to developing this series.

But this series isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. And make sure to follow the GovCheck Twitter/X account for extra stories and analysis that we can’t cover in this series or in ‘Between Parkes Place and Capital Hill.’

Here’s to another 100 Common(wealth) Knowledge articles!



bottom of page