Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Tonga attacks democracy again

31 July 2003

Tonga attacks democracy again

The Media Operators law, just passed by Tonga's undemocratic legislative assembly, indicates that Tonga is slipping back into attacking democracy which threatens not only free speech and good governance in that nation but also New Zealand's national interests, says Progressive MP, Matt Robson.

"It is in everyone's interests to promote democracy and good governance in our region because without good governance you can't promote economic development and jobs and without good governance you also can't develop the foundations necessary for safe communities," Matt Robson said.

The new law provides that only newspapers with 80 percent of shareholders living in Tonga and who are Tongan citizens may be published in Tonga. If the King of Tonga tried to impose that on the New Zealand media, he would close most of the media, creating massive unemployment in the industry while severely curtailing avenues for the free expression of ideas.

The Media Operators law is aimed at shutting down the only free publication in Tonga – the Taimi o Tonga (Times of Tonga). Its publisher, Kalafi Moala, lives in Auckland and he also has United States citizenship.

"What is happening in our near-neighbour Tonga is of course a tragedy for that society and in breach of Tonga's own commitments to the international community via its membership of the United Nations and U.N. conventions," Matt Robson said.

"These developments are also against New Zealand's national interests because the slide into dictatorship in Tonga spells political strife in that society.

"It is against New Zealand's interests to have a neighbour in political turmoil because political strife can be exploited by other nations wanting to make mischief in this part of the world. It also means more and more Tongans will join the queue of those wanting to leave the country as refugees from repression. Their first port of call will be New Zealand and other neighbouring states," Matt Robson said.

The continued repression of free speech in Tonga will be an issue at the 34th Pacific Islands Forum to be held in Auckland in mid-August. "One of the aims of the Forum is to promote democracy and good governance in our region because without good governance you can't promote economic development and jobs and you can't develop the foundations necessary for safe communities," Matt Robson said.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>


Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>


State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>





Featured InfoPages