Media barred from covering inquiry into PNG Parliaments accounts

REPORTERS were barred from covering an inquiry into Parliament’s accounts yesterday to avoid “misrepresentation of proceedings”.
Committee chairman John Hickey advised media representatives to vacate the conference room before the inquiry into parliament began at 10am.
Hickey said it was in the best interest of everyone that the committee did not compromise Parliament, that what was said in the inquiry was not misrepresented.
He said due consideration should be given to the three arms of government – the parliament, judiciary and the executive arm.
But Opposition Deputy Leader Sam Basil yesterday condemned the move saying “something is not right”.
Transparency International PNG chairman Lawrence Stephen said being excluded from committee deliberations on Parliament's accounts was “distressing”.
He said TIPNG did not receive an invitation. It had submitted details of its concerns as required by the committee and were expecting to be invited.
“This is the first I have heard of. As I understand it, we wanted to be present and were told we would not be permitted. Since the inquiry is still continuing, we are expecting to be invited,” Stephen said.
Hickey said: “Before we commence our inquiry into Parliament this morning, we have decided on the information that I’ve received very recently that it would be in the interest of Parliament that we hold this inquiry today in camera,” he said.
“So could you please excuse yourselves? I’ll welcome you back here tomorrow for our next inquiry.”
Woman activist Mathilda Pilakapio said Parliament was the house of the people who reserved the right to know what was being discussed there through the media.
“If the media is left out of the inquiry, then they have something to hide,” Pilakapio said.
Hickey was also disappointed with the media coverage of the tendering process into the procurement of medical kits by the Central Supply and Tenders Board and the Health Department.
Hickey said the committee had not cleared the K71 million contract to Borneo Pacific Limited.
“The inquiry into this issue is continuing with many unanswered questions,” he said.

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