by Sue Kedgley
What was the Speaker thinking about when he came down so heavily on the NZ Herald, just before the election, for publishing a photo on its website of a highly unusual event in Parliament.
I wonder whether he had thought through the implications for democracy of preventing one of the major newspapers in New Zealand from working in Parliament.
Aside from being heavy-handed, all these restrictions on what people can and cannot photograph in Parliament look a bit precious, and have the effect, intended or not, of further divorcing ordinary people from Parliament.
Instead of being encouraged to turn up to Parliament and view it as ‘their place’ all these rules, and the sometimes officious way people sitting in the Gallery are treated, alienate people and make Parliament feel like some other planet, rather than ‘their place’.
I note that MPs in the UK Parliament have been debating similar concerns – namely, that all the tightening of security and rules around visiting their Parliament are making Parliament seem ever more divorced from ordinary people.
As well as undermining freedom of expression in the media, I fear the Speakers ruling could have a similar effect here.