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National calls for halt on libel law

Dr Wayne Mapp National Justice Spokesperson

27 November 2001

National calls for halt on libel law

National has today agreed to support leave in Parliament for the Government to withdraw a tough new criminal defamation clause, which was slipped into the Electoral Amendment Bill (No. 2) at the last minute.

"This clause turns it into a 'muzzle the media' bill," said National's Justice spokesperson, Wayne Mapp, today.

"The clause is not necessary. Criminal defamation was abolished in 1992. Subsequently, there have been no instances of lies being deliberately published in the General Elections of 1993, 1996 and 1999. There is simply no mischief to be cured.

"In any event, such important changes to electoral law should not have been done at the last minute. It is an indictment on the Attorney General's lack of respect for our constitution. The proper course would be for the provision to be referred to the select committee for public consultation.

The Government has claimed that it will introduce a further Electoral Amendment Bill next year. This issue should be left until then, rather than rammed through now in a shonky parliamentary procedure," said Dr Mapp.


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