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Speaker On Demonstration In Parliament Grounds

22 October 2003
Media release: for immediate release

Speaker On Demonstration In Parliament Grounds

Reports of a planned “ tent city camp in” in Parliament grounds over Labour weekend have prompted the Speaker the Rt Hon Jonathan Hunt to issue the following statement:

“It has been drawn to my attention that a group protesting about the expiry on October 29 of the moratorium on applications for the release of genetically modified organisms plan a “ tent city camp in” in Parliament grounds from this Saturday, October 25.

“ I defend the privilege of anyone to protest in Parliament grounds, providing they do so in a way that observes the rights of others going about their business at Parliament and that shows respect for the grounds and buildings.

“While, as was made clear by Speaker Kidd in a Statement to the House on July 27 1999, all people wishing to use Parliament Grounds for a demonstration should contact the Speaker’s office first so that appropriate arrangements can be made, no contact has been made with my office about this reported protest.

“ I am also concerned about the announcement via the internet by this group that it intends erecting tents in Parliament Grounds.

“Speaker Kidd’s 1999 Statement to the House set out the following conditions to be observed by demonstrators in Parliament Grounds:

- Participants must assemble within and disperse from the grounds in an orderly manner, using the pedestrian ways so as to avoid damage to the lawns and flower beds and so as not to interfere with the flow of vehicular traffic;

- Participants must not mount the main steps nor interfere with the use of Parliament buildings by those entering or leaving it in the normal course of their business;

- Sound amplification equipment may be used, but never from the main steps of Parliament Buildings without express permission, it must always be directed away from the building and it must not be operated in a manner disruptive to occupants of the building;

- The size of any deputation from the group waiting upon a Minister or member is to be limited to six people;

- Participants are to conduct themselves in such a way as to avoid any breach of the peace;

- No food may be prepared or sold within Parliament grounds, but there is no restriction on people consuming food that they may have brought with them.

- In addition, without express authority to the contrary, no demonstration should last for longer than a normal working day, eight hours; no vehicles may be brought on to the ground as part of a demonstration; and no structure, such as a tent may be erected.

“The erection of tents would contravene these rules and would cause damage to the lawns and likely damage to the underground sprinkler system.

I expect everyone exercising their privilege to demonstrate in Parliament Grounds to do so in ways that are consistent with these conditions.


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