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Greens satisfied with changes to Electoral Clause

27 November 2001

Greens satisfied with changes to Electoral Amendment Clause

Green Justice spokesperson Nandor Tanczos today said he was satisfied that suggested amendments to a clause in the Electoral Amendment Bill would continue to allow journalists to do their job in the run up to elections.

Nandor said Green concerns that journalists could be liable for criminal defamation if they unknowingly printed incorrect information on political candidates would be satisfactorily resolved with a new amendment agreed to by the Government.

"When we supported the original clause our main concern was to clean up the behaviour of politicians. Once the possible implications for the media became clear we immediately talked to the Government about amending the clause.

"The clause could threaten freedom of speech and it is vital that changes be made to remove that danger," he said.

Nandor said through inserting the words 'knowingly' and 'recklessly' into the clause, journalists would be protected if they publish false material which they believe to be true and take reasonable steps to verify.

"But any journalist or candidate who knowingly publishes false material about a candidate with the intention of influencing an election should be held accountable. A deliberate lie could change who becomes the Government. The seriousness of that outcome justifies stronger safeguards.

"Any journalist who does their job properly by making a reasonable attempt to check the accuracy of information before it is published will be protected."

Nandor said he was pleased with the Government's willingness to address Green concerns on this issue.


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