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Media Ownership And Free Speech

United Future leader, Hon Peter Dunne, is calling on Associate Justice Minister Margaret Wilson to spell out her concerns regarding media ownership and free speech.

Twice in Parliament this week, in response to questions from Mr Dunne, Ms Wilson has raised the issue of media ownership as one of the reasons behind the proposal to reintroduce the law of criminal libel.

"On each occasion, however, she has stopped short of spelling out precisely what her concerns are in this regard, and what the link is that she sees between media ownership and the threat of criminal libel."

"For example, is she concerned that overseas media interests might seek to use their influence to peddle a strong anti-government line in the lead-up to an election, given the government's increasing international isolationism?"

"Or is she worried that overseas controlled media might be more impervious to the careful media schmoozing this government so routinely indulges in?"

"Whatever the reason, the public has a right to know what the Minister's concern is, and why is it causing the government to promote this restrictive new law."

"While Ms Wilson fails to spell out her precise concerns, but keeps citing media ownership as one of the relevant issues, suspicions as to the real intent of her comments will inevitably arise."

"As this law was removed from the statute in 1992, and there has been no clamour for its return since then, the Minister needs to put more forward far more compelling arguments than she has done so far, if her view is to be taken seriously, and not just dismissed as another government attempt to gag the media into subservience," Mr Dunne says.

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