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Complaint to the Editor of the Otago Daily Times

25 April 1998

Mr R Charteris
Otago Daily Times
P.O. Box 181

Dear Mr Charteris,

It is with regret that, in accordance with the procedures of the New Zealand Press Council, a complaint is hereby laid in respect of the article "Work-for-dole scheme only the start", which appeared as part of "The Week in Politics" series in the Otago Daily Times of Saturday 25 April 1998.

This article contained no reference to the fact that New Zealand is bound by international law to abide by conventions involving the use of involuntary labour and that those conventions are required to be written into the domestic law of member countries.

While the Centre freely accepts that the rights of a free press include the right to publish only what it sees fit and to be biased, the Centre is of the view that withholding information from the people of a democratic society falls more into the area of propaganda than freedom of the press. The view of the Centre with regard to bias as a function of press freedom, is to tell both sides of the story, thus making all the facts known to the reader, and then to advocate by reasoned argument one point of view or the other.

It is suggested therefore, that in a free society your readers have the right of access to all the known facts and that you have the right to advocate one view within those known facts.

It is, for example, a matter of fact that these conventions exist and that New Zealand has ratified them and has not denounced them. It is also a matter of fact that you were aware of them from the press releases of the Centre, and that you were also aware from the press releases, that the New Zealand Criminal Justice Act provides that a convicted criminal cannot be sentenced to community service without his consent.

You will also be aware from the press releases that the reason for the requirement of the criminals consent, is to abide by the provisions of the Forced Labour Convention, 1930.

The Centre notes that at no time of which the Centre is aware since the Ministers announcement of the "work for the dole" scheme on Wednesday 22 April, have you ever made known to your readers these facts.

The Centre is however aware of the fact that you covered this matter in an article on the work of the Centre in this area on 19 February 1997. The Centre would submit to you Sir, that one article fourteen months ago is not sufficient to constitute balance; particularly when it is considered that all media carried the story of the scheme with a high priority.

As you will be aware Sir, in feudal times the nobility considered it had the obligation to represent the rights of those over whom it exercised power, thus giving rise to the concept of noblesse oblige - privilege entails responsibility.

It is the view of the Centre Sir, that in these times of democracy it is the media with their privilege who are the new nobility and to whom the people of a free society turn for justice when their elected representatives use the power they hold in the name of the people, to oppress those same people, in defiance of major international agreements on human rights. It is also the view of the Centre that it is on you the media that the people depend for the enlightened development of New Zealand society.

Neither the Centre nor its Director wishes to receive credit for this work, they seek only to have the information put before the people.

For your information please find enclosed further copies of the press releases.

Yours sincerely,



Reply from the Editor of the Otago Daily Times


PO BOX 181,
TELEPHONE: (03) 477-4760
FAX: (03) 474-7422

April 27, 1998

Mr J M Stevenson
7 McCurdy St

Dear Mr Stevenson,

Your letter of April 25 complaining at our "Week in Politics" article of that day is noted, as is your opinion concerning "propaganda". I cannot agree with your assertion the article falls into that category. Neverless, if that is your opinion you are free to express it. I am willing to consider for publication a letter to the Editor stating your view should you care to submit one.

Yours faithfully,



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