Attorney General Carl Bethel.
By MORGAN ADDERLEY
Tribune Staff Reporter
PROTECTION for political party symbols need to be “expanded” to prevent people from using party symbols to send “negative messages”, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.
In an interview with the Tribune, Mr Bethel said the government is looking at “several models” for regulating the political sector – including finance reform and party symbols.
When asked if legislation for political party regulation and protection will be introduced when the House of Assembly returns in October, Mr Bethel replied: “We are looking at several models of regulation of the political sector, including finance reform- we’re looking intensely at that issue.”
“One of the aspects may also be the fact that once a political symbol is recorded with the parliamentary commissioner and accepted as the symbol, certainly for the purpose of the election, that symbol cannot be used by any candidate without a letter from the party chairman or the party leader, period.
He continued: “Now that’s only for the purpose of election. Well that protection needs to be expanded to prevent people from using party symbols to send negative messages under the guise of being a party statement. If you look at the recent PLP convention, there were a host of very negative, very damaging, very malicious and I’d say almost libelous memes that went out against one particular candidate, all under the guise of the PLP symbol. That was inappropriate.”
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell yesterday said the Opposition would “like to see what they propose”.
Mr Mitchell was asked by the Tribune yesterday to provide the Opposition’s position,on this matter and respond to reports that the PLP had previously considered making strides to protect its symbol.
“We have taken no official policy position,” Mr Mitchell said.
“What we have is an application now before the (AG) which he refuses to sign off on under the Companies Act to incorporate the PLP as a company by guarantee with non profit status.
“We would then vest all property, including intellectual property like the symbol, in that company.”
“In the meantime we have also said we would consider a special Act to create a statutory Corporation which would do the same thing,” Mr Mitchell continued. “Neither has moved forward.”
“In the last parliament both sides had agreed in a select committee to fund political parties in their administrative work with an annual subvention paid by the state provided they were in the House of Assembly... it was only if the parties accepted the funding that they had to affirm annually that the money was spent for the purpose.
“The general regulation of political parties is not a matter that goes down very well…” Mr Mitchell added.