The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72
It was not our intention to have entered into any discussion upon the misnamed Libel Bill introduced into Parliament by the Hon. John McKenzie, as even the New Zealand Times belabours it as an absurdity, and as an "elephantine" joke of that Minister. However, it is all important that the position should be put right before the public, and we take this opportunity of putting on record the obligations all those connected with the press are under to the editor of the Evening Post for the very able leader under the above title appearing in Monday's issue. The whole of the best authorities are quoted which show "the liberty of the press—the right to print what men have a right to say, to think, and to believe—embraces and embodies all the other liberties which are essential to the freedom of man." For a Liberal Government to introduce such a measure as the Minister of Lands has brought in is an un-fortunate exhibition of the power they would like to obtain, as the Post points out, "no such law as that with which Mr. McKenzie wishes to fetter the press with has ever been known before." In the leader referred to, it is shown that the Premier gave a pledge in writing that he would endeavour to effect the necessary reform in the law of libel, but instead "a stone has been hurled at the press with all the force of malice which a narrow-minded and vindictive Minister could give it." The leader is a long one, but well worth the perusal of all, as it utters many words of warning which appear most needed at the present time. It concludes with the statement that Mr. McKenzie "fears the press as the fearless exponent of public thought, the ever watchful guardian of public liberty, and the bulwark of civil and religious freedom. Hence he seeks to sap its influence and destroy its power."