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Govt must act against media ban at beaches hui

Govt must act against media ban at beaches hui

The Government must act quickly to ensure that mainstream media are granted full access to the taxpayer-sponsored hui on foreshore and seabed, according to National Party Justice spokesman Richard Worth.

"Any bid to exclude the media would make a farce of our democratic system."

He's commenting in the wake of reports that there are plans to ban reporters from the substantive talks at this week's hui in Gisborne.

"What has the Government got to hide?

"This raises highly significant issues of press freedom that should not be swept under the carpet by the Government," Mr Worth says.

"The claims that a media presence would constrain discussion don't measure up.

"The public has a right to know what's being said at meetings which are being paid for with public money," says Mr Worth. "If some host venues push ahead with plans to ban media from attending, the Government should move the meeting away from that marae.

"A ban would be totally unacceptable to a majority of the country and would serve to reinforce the feeling that a secret deal is being hatched behind closed doors.

"The Government's always been nervous talking about the foreshore and seabed issue and now it wants to shut down the debate by excluding mainstream media," Mr Worth says.

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