29 MPs vote to repeal the Act

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Members of the Coalition Government on Friday, April 6, 2023. Picture: SUPPLIED/FACEBOOK

A wave of euphoria swept through Fiji’s newsrooms yesterday after Parliament voted to repeal one of the most regressive and oppressive legislation drafted for the media industry in Fiji.

The Media Industry Development Act (MIDA) 2010 was cast out after 29 Parliamentarians voted to repeal the harsh and punishing Act that came into being 13 years ago.

The changes came about despite strong objections from the Opposition – made up of FijiFirst MPs. During the vote, 21 MPs voted against the repeal, while three did not vote.

Members of Government, who moved and supported the motion, marked the day as one where Fiji was moving out of the darkness and “into the light”.

Minister for Lands and Mineral Resources Filimoni Vosarogo said MIDA had not advanced media growth but curtailed it. MIDA, he said, had taken media freedom on a downward turn, towards darkness and oblivion.

He listed out instances over the past decade whereby Government began to favour certain business outlets such as Fiji Sun and FBC, and recounted that senior journalists were forced out of their jobs.

“Today, we return Fiji to the light – freedom of the media, the light that has brought media personnel to this House today, they want it repealed and they want their freedom to report freely given back to them,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Communications Manoa Kamikamica said it was “a new day in Fiji”.

He also read out a letter in Parliament, penned by Fijian Media Association (FMA) general secretary Stanley Simpson, to be captured on Hansard.

“MIDA is the worst thing to have happened to the freedom of media in Fiji,” Mr Simpson wrote.

He said journalists in the country were harassed, detained and threatened. Deputy Prime Minister Professor Biman Prasad also said this was a new dawn for the industry and the people of Fiji as a whole.

He said one of the first things he had done after being elected to Parliament in 2014 was to move a motion to repeal MIDA.

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