Parliament did not Silence the Live Radio Broadcasting of Parliament Debates on the Auditor General’s Report

The Office of the Legislative Assembly of Tonga wishes to correct false and misleading information that is currently circulated in some news media and social media regarding the live radio broadcasting of Parliamentary debates.

Matangitonga Online published an article on their website on 22 August 2023 titled Parliament goes dark while Auditor General's Report exposes financial “weaknesses”. The article claims that
the radio has been silenced during debate on the Auditor General's Report for 2021-2022”. This claim is FALSE AND MISLEADING.

The Auditor General's Financial and Compliance Audit Report for 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 was tabled in the House on 8 August 2023 and the Speaker referred it to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts on the same day. The Standing Committee reported to the House on 17 August. Parliament’s deliberations were broadcasted live on radio on both these days. This contradicts the claim in the Matangitonga’s article that the radio was silenced during debate on the Auditor’s report.

Parliament facilitates and supports the live broadcasting of its sessions. Two designated radio broadcasters’ attendance at Parliament premises is facilitated for the sole purpose of live broadcasting the debates on radio. However, the decision to live broadcast Parliament on a particular day is entirely up to the radio station and their daily schedule. On 15 August 2023, both radio stations did not live broadcast Parliament’s debates because they were live broadcasting another event that was being held at the same time as the Parliament meeting. However, one of the radio stations had recorded the day’s debates and broadcasted it at a later date. Furthermore, hansard records of proceedings in Parliament are available for free access by the public on the official Parliament website www.parliament.gov.to.

The Legislative Assembly and Speaker acknowledges the importance of transparency and the vital role of the media in holding Members of Parliament and the Legislature to account. However, the media must report news responsibility and accurately and be very careful not to mislead the public in the process. Matangitonga Online, Kaniva Tonga News and any other media or press publishing misleading articles with the information herein corrected are hereby advised to retract such articles for the sake of the public’s interest.

Issued by the Chief Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
30 August 2023
Office of the Legislative Assembly, Nuku’alofa, Tonga


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