Mr Speaker, we’re not your enemies. We’re reporting without fear or favour

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A PNG Post-Courier newsboy on the streets in Port Moresby
A PNG Post-Courier newsboy on the streets in Port Moresby . . . a reminder that Parliament belongs to the people. Their voice must be heard. Image: PNG Post-Courier

EDITORIAL: PNG Post-Courier

Mister Speaker, our collective question without notice is to you mister Speaker. We want the Prime Minister and his deputy to take note Sir.

Our question from the Media Gallery is specifically directed to you, Mr Speaker, because of events that have transpired in the last 48 hours in which the freedom of the media in the people’s house has been once again curtailed.

Mr Speaker, we are aware of proposed changes to laws that are yet to reach the House that have been circulated by the Minister for Communications for consultation with all stakeholders in the media industry on the media development policy document, we are still concerned about what these will further impinge on the operations of mainstream media in PNG in covering, questioning and investigating Parliament, politicians and government departments and their activities.

PNG POST-COURIER
PNG POST-COURIER

Last week, our members’ movements in and around the National Parliament at Waigani was further restricted by members of the Parliamentary Security Services.

We are now restricted to the press gallery and cannot further venture around the House in search of news. Mr Speaker, is the media really a serious threat to you and the members of the House that you have to apply such stringent measures to curtail our movements?

Parliament is an icon of our democracy. It is rightfully the people’s House, might we remind you mister Speaker, that we are guaranteed freedom of movement, freedom of speech, freedom to engage with all leaders mandated by the people to represent them here.

What then is the reason for you to set up barriers around the hallways, offices of MPs and public walkways, Mr Speaker?

Your Parliamentary Clerk is lost, Mr Speaker. In our queries not aware of any order to gag the media in the people’s House. His deputy is muted and cannot find a reason for this preposterous decision to restrict our movements in the House.

Acting Speaker's defiant reply to the Post-Courier
Acting Speaker’s defiant reply to the Post-Courier about his media restrictions . . . “the Speaker is responsible for upholding the dignity of Parliament.” Image: The National screenshot APR

Mr Speaker, we consider this a serious impingement on the freedom of journalists to access Parliament House, report on the proceedings, seek out and question MPs on the spot.

Sir, Mr Speaker, we are well aware of the processes, procedures and decorum of the house, and where we as political reporters and photographers can traverse and that we always stay on our side of the fence.

Mr Speaker, let us remind you once again that Parliament belongs to the people. Their voice must be heard. Their MPs must be on record to deliver their needs and wants and their views.

The people cannot be denied. This will be a grave travesty Mr Speaker, if you deny the people their freedom to know what is transpiring in Parliament by silencing the media.

In the past, the media had a very good relationship with your office and we are pleased to say that the Speaker has on more than one occasion, assisted the members of the media with accreditation, and even transportation.

But Mr Speaker, don’t entertain any point of order from other Members on our question. They have had their day on the floor.

Mister Speaker, we members of the media are not primitives. Far from it, we are just the messengers of the people.

One last friendly reminder Mr Speaker. The very people that you are trying to restrict are the ones that you will need to get the message out to the people and to the world.

We are not your enemies. We are here to ensure your all 118 MPs do a proper job transparently without fear or favour.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

This PNG Post-Courier editorial was published under the headline “A Question without Notice” on 12 June 2023. Republished with permission.

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