Protest photo punishment too harsh?

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.

6 Comments Posted

  1. I don’t think taking the photo was the problem. Rather it was publishing the photo without seeking permission first that was the real offence. The Herald deserved a reminder.

    I suspect Lockwood Smith intended to shorten the punishment all along.


  2. “the parties involved are both august bodies of professional people”.

    I tend to regard people by their actions db; and the current mob haven’t underestimated the power of spin, dissembling, smokescreens, omission,
    late-nite Legislation shoved through almost under the table, the good old shell game etc.

    By the standards of my history as an Employer – people who can’t or won’t acknowledge the truth are unemployable

    I feel, at this time, I would rather have the press overstep the mark – than watching a trend of repression begin.

    The gap between ‘rich and poor’ is secondary to the gap between truth and fiction

    I feel NZ is well past a discussion about “the implications for Democracy”.
    For me, it is a discussion about the absentia of basic human rights –
    Sue is being unduly kind in using the word ‘implications’ instead of ‘absence’.

    Losing the ‘Duty of Care’ in Government is no small matter.

    I think we are into a discussion about disposing of obsolete and insincere Government – though my yearly tax bill is pro-rata huge – I don’t want to quibble about mistakes, or, ‘falling through the cracks’ anymore……not when there is no floor.

  3. This is pathetic.

    We are not dealing with a schoolkid versus a copper situation; the parties involved are both august bodies of professional people.

    There are rules in place. The Herald knows the rules, and chose to ignore them. The Herald got bollocked. Righteously so. Perhaps they’ll think twice next time the think they should break the rules.

    The rules may (in the mind of the Herald and others) be wrong, but they exist, and thus must be followed. If the rules are wrong, there is a process whereby that can be addressed.

  4. I’d love to see the Speaker’s response if all the major media in New Zealand banded together and published the photo. Would he ban them all, and allow no journalistic reporting out of parliament? And how does that effect the rights of citizens to know and understand what’s happening in the debating chamber?

  5. I think we can consider the divorce papers well and truly signed. What we need to see is the relationship between Parliament and the public at least on speaking terms with each other. When Lockwood Smith said the mediator wasn’t allowed to do their job, he effectively said I don’t give a damn about democracy… Such things are unacceptable!

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