Reading the Herald's report on Parliament's "backdown", I was quite surprised to see that the Greens appear to support the exclusion of independent cameras:
Greens co-leader Rod Donald accused the other parties of "extraordinary hypocrisy" and "caving in" to network pressure.
The Greens' test blog (found through Technorati) provides some context to these remarks. The Greens view the entire thing as self-interested reporting (which it is), but the chief target of their criticism is the other parties. As they (and the Herald) point out, Parliament's Standing Orders Committee unanimously agreed that having "physically intrusive" independent cameras cluttering the galleries was "unacceptable". To have parties which endorsed that view now posing as defenders of press freedom and trying to cast the restrictions as being the idea of the government is extraordinarily hypocritical on their part - and it is something the media should be exposing. This is not about the government or the Speaker, but the (previously) shared interest of all our elected representatives in stymie-ing democratic oversight.
The Greens are also right in pointing out that the opposition's sudden change of heart is a result of media pressure; on Agenda this morning, one of the media commentators mentioned that the media had threatened a boycott of Parliament. The opposition would lose far more from this than the government (just think of where their profile would be without daily footage of Bill English or ken Shirley crucifying the government in the House over NCEA or tertiary funding), so its hardly surprising that they've changed their minds.
Finally, the Greens point out that the issue of who films is mostly a red herring. What really matters is the standing orders relating to what is allowed to be filmed - not who is behind the camera. Where they're wrong is in alleging that these rules have been unquestioned by the media up until now. The media has complained in the past about Parliamentary censorship; what's different this time is that those complaints have got some traction. And I can't really blame them for exploiting it to the fullest (and attempting to leverage a repeal of those restrictive standing orders) when the opportunity presents itself.
But before anyone gets the idea that I'm complaing that the Greens have been unfairly misrepresented, I'm not. Because what is clear from all of the above is that the Greens support the restrictions - and I'm at a complete loss as to why. The Greens have generally taken a strong stand on democracy and accountability (particularly with regard to introducing better electoral systems which make it easier for voters to hold their representatives accountable), so its a bit of a surprise to see them opposing the transparency which is an essential precondition for the above.
Perhaps Rod Donald or someone else from the Greens would care to explain...?
Update: as mentioned in the comments, the Greens' test-blog has been taken down, presumably because they didn't expect other people to be reading it. Which is a shame, because it had some very interesting content...