Freed Australian journalist Peter Greste has criticised the Abbott government for denying journalists access to asylum seekers held in immigration detention centres.
Greste condemned the secrecy surrounding conditions inside detention centres and demanded the media be allowed to report from inside.
"The public has a right to know, it's as simple as that," Greste said.
Speaking at the National Press Club on Thursday, Greste directly addressed Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who attended the speech.
"This comes back, as uncomfortable as it is, Minister, we need to have access, we need to see what's going on," he said.
"And as difficult as it is for the government, if we close that down, if we make it hard for journalists to do their jobs, then we end up with dark spaces where things happen that really shouldn't be happening."
Greste, a free speech campaigner who was last month freed after spending more than 400 days in an Egyptian jail on terrorism-related charges, had earlier expressed his gratitude to Ms Bishop for the diplomatic work done to secure his release. But to much applause he said the government must not block the media from doing its job.
"We hired the government, they work for us, not the other way around. And if we lose sight of that, if we lose sight of the public's need to know and to make decisions and to make democracy work, then again I think we run the risk of losing control," he said.
"I'm the son of an asylum seeker. I don't know quite what the statistics are, but the vast number of Australians - we all have asylum seekers in our blood.
"The Aborigines are the ones who can claim to have any kind of genuine Australian blood in them, and I think we need to bear that in mind that this is what built this country, it was immigrants that built this country."
Greste's comments come after the government last week released damning findings from the independent Moss review which found evidence of rape and sexual assault inside the Nauru detention centre.
A lengthy worldwide campaign for freedom of the press ensured Greste release in February. His two Al Jazeera colleagues remain in Egypt on bail awaiting a retrial.
When praising Ms Bishop for the work she and diplomats did behind the scenes to secure his release, Greste singled out the Foreign Minister's "secret weapon" - her "laser-like eyes".
"One of the keys to successful diplomacy is getting the balance of the public and private pressure right, and I've heard from more than a few independent diplomats who have remarked on how astutely you and DFAT handled our case and, in particular, how well you used your secret weapon and one that has got you into trouble over the last few days, those rather laser-like eyes," Greste said.
"One person ... commented on your uncanny ability to smile very warmly at a particular diplomat and at the same time burn holes through the back of their skulls, giving them the distinct impression that they've just been hugged by the Terminator."