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One Set Of Rules For The Media

“ACT Leader, Hon Richard Prebble, said today that he would continue to press for fair and consistent rules for the coverage of Parliament.

“I do not think it is acceptable that the Evening Post has been disciplined by the Speaker for printing a photo of Annabel Young MP, in Parliament, when both television channels are showing footage of MPs.

“What are the rules?

“The Speaker, the Rt Hon J L Hunt, told the House that photos can only be shown of the MP who is speaking.

“Television has not followed this ruling all year. For example, on Saturday night’s news I am shown giving a V for victory sign as ACT scored a procedural success on the Bill. Under the ruling of the Speaker this must be prohibited.

“Television New Zealand has now gone so far as to manufacture news items.

“In the news item on Sunday night TVNZ showed film of Jenny Shipley making the very serious allegation that the Prime Minister had sought `dirt’ on Mr Dover Samuels.

“The news then had a film shot of Helen Clark shaking her head in denial.

“In fact, Ms Clark was not in Parliament on Saturday. No government MP denied the allegations and the government MPs looked in total disarray. It was not until the next day that a spokesperson issued a denial.

“The television story is false and misleading as viewers were not told that library footage was being used. As such, it breaks standing orders that state that it is a contempt of Parliament and a serious breach of privilege to publish a false and misleading report of the proceedings of Parliament.

“I have made a complaint to TVNZ. I am seriously considering filing a breach of privilege complaint. Someone needs to complain. A privileges complaint would enable the Privileges Committee to review the rules and set out some clear guidelines.

“The ACT Party is not opposed to coverage of Parliament. In a democracy, coverage of Parliament is vital. But all media should be acting under the same rules.

The media, MPs and the public need to know what the rules are and then the rules need to be applied consistently,” said Hon Richard Prebble.

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