Tuesday, August 29, 2006



Giving the finger to democracy II

Dean Knight has a good post in which he argues that Parliament's ban on filming MPs who are not standing and speaking is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act, and that it cannot possibly meet the usual test for what constitutes a "justified limitation". Unfortunately, Parliamentary privilege means that Parliament is accountable only to itself, and the decision cannot be challenged in a neutral court. Yet another way in which our MPs give the finger to democracy...

7 comments:

Please, NO Elipses!
Sadly I have never thought NZ democracy and NZ Parliament have ever equated to fair.

Something to do with swearing allegiance and service to someone else rather than me, negates my vote and existence really.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/29/2006 02:27:00 PM

TV3 are not having their freedom of expression restricted. They're having the places they are allowed to go with their cameras restricted. There are already significant restrictions to this on both government and private property, under the law of trespass.

The rules are anti-democratic, but I don't think they breach freedom of expression.

Posted by Anonymous : 8/29/2006 08:08:00 PM

It's clear under the statutory wording in s14 of the Bill of Rights ("Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form.") and the supporting caselaw that refusing or restricting media access is a breach of the Bill of Rights. It's just the same as refusing media access to court proceedings, where there is an established body of law.

Posted by Dean Knight : 8/30/2006 08:21:00 AM

Dean: there's also the point that this isn't just any old place they're being restricted from - it's Parliament. Legally, Parliament might be the Speaker's private fiefdom - but it damn well shouldn't be in a democracy. And the courts have recognised this, at least with regards to trespass law.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 8/30/2006 12:54:00 PM

By and large, I think Dean's spot on. But I think anonymous raises a fair point. How far exactly does the "right to receive information" stretch? It has been interpreted narrowly overseas. It can't include my right to receive all the information you hold. There are problems with arguing that it includes the right to receive information held by the government. Perhaps it only really means that the government can't unreasonably inhibit someone who wants to receive information from someone who wants to give it to them. Still, if it does include a substantive right to receive particular information, access to Parliamentary debates must surely be top of the list. Perhaps it also suggests that the Official Information Act should apply to Parliament...

Posted by Steven Price : 8/31/2006 11:56:00 AM

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator. Posted by Jason Le Vaillant-Coats : 9/03/2006 07:13:00 PM

I wrote the "anonymous" comment above.

Dean, could you expand on your comments - in particular, could you describe the case law on refusing media access to court proceedings? I am wondering how relevant it is.

Another issue to consider is the legal status of the Speaker's directives. What does it mean for the Speaker to "ban" someone from Parliament, anyway?

Posted by Jason Le Vaillant-Coats : 9/03/2006 07:14:00 PM