Major media companies have declared they are still unhappy with the Turnbull government's proposed new secrecy laws despite a compromise offer designed to take the sting out of the bill's impact on journalism by watering down penalties and beefing up defences for journalists.
The news outlets - including Fairfax Media, News Corp, the ABC and the Guardian - conceded changes made by new Attorney-General Christian Porter addressed "a number of our concerns" about the original scheme, but they still argued a blanket exemption for journalists should apply.
The stoush between the government and the country's biggest media outlets stems from a crackdown on foreign espionage that will also apply tough penalties - including jail time in excess of 10 years - on anyone convicted of disseminating state secrets.
A defence is available for journalists operating in the public interest, but this has not satisfied the major media companies, who collectively responded to Mr Porter's amendments late on Tuesday.
In a written submission, they argued the bill "still criminalises journalists for doing their jobs", and said they were not satiated by the government's promise that prosecutors would have to disprove a journalist's defence in court.
"It should not be a surprise that this is not at all comforting," they wrote. The threat of legal action would still have a "chilling effect" on important public interest journalism because "no one wants to be charged with an offence and have to defend themselves in court", the companies argued.
"That’s not what journalists want to do when they get out of bed every morning," they told the government. "The result can be nothing but detrimental to the Australian public’s right to know."
The companies suggested the defences for journalists should be reframed into a broad exemption - something Mr Porter has previously rejected, despite recognising shortcomings with the original bill drafted under his predecessor George Brandis.
The bill is being examined by a parliamentary committee. Labor has said it wouldn't back a bill that endangers journalists, but will examine the amendments put forward by the government.
Late on Tuesday, shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said there were still "serious flaws" with the proposed bill and the government had "failed to address the community's concerns" with its amendments.
He said Labor "won’t accept laws that put journalists in jail for doing their job or punish innocent Australians who have done nothing wrong", but would work with the government "to make these laws stronger and to keep Australians safe".
That sets up a potential pathway for the government to negotiate with Labor - or it could look to the Senate crossbench.