'Make no mistake and media gag laws will be back': Perrett
THE State Government has been accused of protecting its re-election chances ahead of free speech in its backflip on media gag laws introduced to parliament this week.
Gympie MP and opposition spokesman for agriculture Tony Perrett took aim over the reversal, saying it was "hard not to be cynical" about the flip, made within a day of the laws being tabled.
Under the proposal it would be illegal to publish corruption allegations made against state and local candidates during the election period after writs are issued.
Doing so would carry a $6672 fine or up to six months in jail.
Local members and candidates would still be free to tell constituents about allegations.
Mr Perrett said the backflip was only made because of backlash ahead of the October election.
"They have only withdrawn the legislation because they've been made blatantly aware that people value free speech, press freedom, and democracy," Mr Perrett said.
"People can see a power grab.
"Despite all their media spin doctors and messaging the Labor Government couldn't control the push back.
"If an election wasn't coming they would be pushing this through the parliament.
"There's no doubt it will be dusted off under any future Labor government."
State Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath announced the government's change of mind yesterday morning.
"The government respects the recommendations of the CCC," she said.
"However, given the limited time for the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee to consider the law changes the CCC seeks, the CCC Bill introduced (Thursday) in state parliament is withdrawn."
Mr Perrett said it was an excuse that rang hollow.
"The Government drafted legislation, discussed it at Cabinet, the Premier and every Minister signed off on it, it was discussed in the ALP caucus room, then presented to parliament, yet no one raised an eyebrow," he said.
"What are they hiding?
"It's in their DNA to try to control journalists, and the media cycle.
"The excuse that there wasn't enough time for the committee to hear the legislation is ludicrous."
He said time limits for committee hearings had "never bothered them before", and said past decisions had been made with minimal warning.
"They've made changes to Queensland electoral laws with 19 minutes notice.
"The person on the street clearly has a completely different view to Labor of what free speech and transparency means."
(Yesterday's) announcement is simply clearing the decks of anything that is contentious."