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Speaker should reverse banning of NZ Herald from Parliament

Speaker should reverse banning of NZ Herald from Parliament

The Media Freedom Committee says the Speaker should reverse his banning of The New Zealand Herald from Parliament for breaching its rules.

“It is an over reaction at a critical time when an election is looming,” MFC secretary Tim Pankhurst said.

He said the MFC – which represents all newspapers and their websites and radio and television - had previously argued that Standing Orders needed to allow for exceptional circumstances.

“If there was a brawl in the House – and that’s within the realms of possibility – the media is forbidden to show that.

“Similarly, picturing this week’s disturbance in the Gallery is forbidden. That is despite it being a news event of considerable interest that disrupted Parliament and led to a spat between the Leader of the Opposition and the Prime Minister.”

“Dr Smith is generally regarded as an able Speaker and is respected for that. But he might be well advised to hop off his high horse in this instance,” Pankhurst said.

“The media are the eyes of the public and Dr Smith also serves the public. He is our employee. There is no disrespect to Parliament here.”

He said Parliament’s supposed intent under its Standing Orders is to protect the dignity of the House and its Members.

“All photography was banned until relatively recently but the Member who has the Speaker’s call, that is the MP who is speaking, is permitted to be photographed.

“But anyone who might be snoozing, doing the crossword or scratching or picking at themselves – and all those have and do occur – is protected.

“That compromise has generally worked and we urge Dr Smith to take a wider view.”

Tim Pankhurst
Media Freedom Committee


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