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TVNZ's actions an attack on freedom of speech

5 April 2005

TVNZ's actions an attack on freedom of speech

TVNZ's behaviour in pressuring a witness who gave evidence before a select committee inquiry amounted to an attack on freedom of speech, the Green Party says.

"For the health of our democracy, we must jealously protect freedom of speech in Parliament - including for witnesses appearing before it," Broadcasting Spokesperson Sue Kedgley says.

"If witnesses are not able to express their views freely and without fear of punishment, Parliament will not be able to hold government bodies to account, Ms Kedgley said.

"The right to free speech, including by submitters who appear before Parliament, is an ancient and important principle which is at the heart of our democratic system, the Greens' Spokesperson on Constitutional Issues, Nandor Tanczos says.

"It is an important principle and one which TVNZ recklessly breached. The privileges of Parliament should not be so lightly regarded that an employment matter is seen to take precedence."

Ms Kedgley says the Green Party considered the action by TVNZ was an outrageous abuse of Parliament's procedures, and strongly supported the Privilege's Committee finding that TVNZ has committed a contempt of the House, and its recommended punishments.

"We hope that the Privileges committee report and its actions will send a very clear message to witnesses appearing before select committees that any efforts to intimidate, disadvantage or hinder a witness from giving evidence, or otherwise undermine their freedom of speech, will not be tolerated," she said.

ENDS


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