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SYDNEY (AP) — Australia's tarnished reputation as a bastion of press freedom has come under further attack, with media executives telling a parliamentary inquiry there are many laws that criminalize journalism in a country plagued by an air of official secrecy.

The comments Tuesday came at the start of an inquiry into press freedom by the Parliament's Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security. The inquiry was called following raids on media outlets by federal police in June.

A dozen senior executives from Australia's major news organizations presented a united front at the Sydney hearing, demanding changes to national security laws to protect journalists.

News Corp executive chairman Michael Miller said Australia has "many laws that criminalize journalism" and which are "creating a secret society that most Australians would not recognize as our own."

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