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PM's Presser: TV, Party Lists & Punishing Parents

PM's Presser: TV, Party Lists & Punishing Parents
Prime Minister’s Presser March 21

Standing Orders Committee Decision Gets Booted By PM
Punishing The Parents Of Miscreant Youth
Labour’s Party List Announced


Standing Orders Committee Decision Gets Booted By PM

Extract from the standing orders committee’s final report on the broadcasting of Parliament, Nov 2003.

Having multiple sets of camera equipment in the galleries is physically intrusive. We are aware of no other Parliament that broadcasts its proceedings and, in addition, allows television companies to set up their own facilities in its galleries. We would not contemplate allowing that to continue once a feed is being provided to broadcasters. It has been tolerated only because the House has not produced its own feed until now.

Committee members – Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt (Chair), Hon Richard Prebble (Deputy Chairperson), Hon Jim Anderton, David Benson-Pope, Peter Brown, Gerry Brownlee, John Carter, Hon Dr Michael Cullen, Rod Donald, Peter Dunne

In 2003 the standing orders committee decided that once an in-house system had been established for broadcasting Parliament, all other cameras would be excluded. All parliamentary parties at the time were represented on this committee and there was no minority report suggesting any political party was perturbed by this decision.

The Prime Minister yesterday considered the decision was a little odd and noted the decision had not been brought to her attention.

“Had it been drawn to my attention I would have raised the issue of why the standing orders committee felt it necessary to say that other cameras couldn't be there,” she said.

The Prime Minister considered freeing up space for the public might have been behind the decision to get rid of the TVNZ and TV3 camera crews. ACT Leader Rodney Hide implied on his weblog that the entire thing had somehow been a conspiracy to remove TV3 and TVNZ cameras: “The plan was never about full TV coverage of Parliament but the removal of TVNZ and TV3 cameras,” he wrote, implying there was some sort of dastardly government conspiracy to crush the fourth estate.

Former ACT Leader Richard Prebble, whilst the deputy chairperson of the standing orders committee, seems to have been unaware of the alleged danger to media freedom and democracy inherent in his committee's report. And the National and NZ First members also seem to have taken their eyes off the ball.

As ACT, NZ First and National have all done an about turn on the need to remove excess cameras and free up seating for the public, the Prime Minister was not going to be the only one riling the major TV networks in an election year.

“The standing orders committee now appears to have a number of parties represented on it that do not want to stand by their decision. As I say it wasn’t a decision of the Labour party or the government, it was the decision of a multi-party committee… I think its important now that the television channels sit down to proper discussions with the speaker about the rules under which cameras are admitted. In some future time, when that discussion has been had, the government will then look again at whether it picks up the broadcasting proposal. In my mind there is no reason for it to exclude other cameras at the same time,” she said.

The decision to defer the in-house broadcasting proposal was also going to save around six million dollars. Initially the start up cost had been estimated at around two million dollars. The Prime Minister pointed this fiscally responsible approach out to the Dominion Post’s political reporter Vernon Small:

“I know you, Vernon, don't accept that the surplus is as thin as it is. Some of us do take a great interest in the level of the real surplus and we are quite happy to spend the money on other things this year.”

TV3 catch a jet lagged David Benson-Pope out

Whilst the Prime Minister appeared ambivalent to the major broadcasters' cameras staying in the House, she was less impressed with TV3’s mean spirited decision to show the jetlagged David Benson Pope having a wee nap.

Mr Benson Pope had returned to the House after spending time in Europe, and given the dull nature of question time last week, quite naturally fell asleep. Mr Benson Pope was only to be faulted for his zeal according to the Prime Minister:

“My only criticism of him would be - why did you bother coming down at all?"


Labour’s Party List Announced

Yesterday the Labour Party announced its candidates and list rankings for the coming general election. Some candidates such as John Tamihere, Clayton Cosgrove and George Hawkins were not on the list, preferring to duke it out in the old first past the post melee. Certain omissions from the list caused some consternation in media circles. The Prime Minister avoided being dragged into an in-depth discussion of the merits of her cabinet and parliamentary colleagues.

“I think we have eight members of the parliamentary Labour Party who are not on the list by their own choice and there’s no problem with that. Some have made big statements about it – others haven’t. It is entirely up to them it is not compulsory.”

The ranking given to Shane Jones looked likely to increase the numbers of bristling moustache’s in Parliament by one.

“Shane Jones was marked out [about] fifteen years ago as an up and coming Maori leader. He is now a relatively young Maori leader, in his mid 40s. He is a very substantial figure within Maoridom. His period at the Maori Fisheries Commission was one where we were able to work towards a resolution of the long-standing issue of how we were able to allocate out to iwi and on what basis. He is certainly a person of the future and the ranking reflects that, ” stated the Prime Minister when queried about Mr Jones high list ranking.

Meanwhile Marian Hobbs up coming Wellington central battle with former mayor and staunch V8 race supporter, Mark Blumsky ,was not behind her high ranking according to the PM. “[There was] no consideration given to that at all,” she said.


Punishing The Parents Of Miscreant Youth

Yesterday National Party Leader, Don Brash took the old maxim of spare the rod and spoil the child and turned it on its head. Dr Brash in a bid to look tough on youth crime advocated taking the proverbial rod to young tearaway’s parents in the form of a fiscal thrashing. The Prime Minister mused for some time on Dr Barsh’s latest law and Order positioning.

“In my observation the nicest of parents can have the most awful kids. I think it is important to be supporting parents with difficult kids and that is where the focus needs to be,” she said.

Dr Brash’s attempt to get tough on parents was derided as old hat.

“From what I have seen of this speech it seems to be a re-hash of a lot of things that the government already does and funds… I really don’t see anything new in it.”

It was also pointed out that penalties were at present available to the judiciary to bring wayward parents into line.

“Now – The family court can order parents to pay reparation now for what their kids have done. They can also take children away from their parents and place them somewhere else,” she said.

The Prime Minister was also sceptical of aspects of Dr Brash’s speech that implied more money needed to be thrown at the problem of youth crime.

“On the one hand they [National] are inclined to say we spend rather too much on the social area. Then [with] each policy statement there is a whole lot of new ideas for spending [by National].”


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