Abel says freedom of speech not at stake


THE Government has no intention of restricting freedom of speech or trying to restrict the media in any way, says Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer Charles Abel.
He made the comment during a press conference after Opposition MPs walked out of the chamber when Speaker Job Pomat announced that Madang MP Bryan Kramer would be referred to the Parliamentary Privileges Committee.
Abel said the country was adjusting to platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, social media, internet and global communications.
“They are bringing new challenges to us that we are learning to deal with,” he said.
He said it became a concern when defamatory remarks were made tarnishing a person’s reputation.
“Under normal media circumstances, there’s redress (so that) people are held accountable. You can’t simply go and say what you like in the public domain, cause the damage and you don’t face the consequences,” he said.
“Our government is trying to tip-toe its way through this changing world to make sure that all our regulations are in place.”
He said leaders needed to be responsible when saying things in the public domain.
“I don’t think there’s any need for alarm, or to walk out of Parliament and immediately go to the press to highlight this issue was unnecessary.”