Tuesday, June 26, 2007



A sanitised picture

Parliament's Standing Orders Committee is proposing new rules for the upcoming live broadcast of Parliament. Reading their report [PDF], many of the changes are good - the cameras will now no longer be limited to focusing on the Speaker or the Member with the call, but will also be allowed to show reaction shots, as well as some wide-angle shots of the chamber. However, they will be explicitly forbidden for using images for the purpose of "satire, ridicule or denigration" - and violating the rules will become a contempt of Parliament. So, broadcasters could face a Star Chamber of MPs and be fined, forced to apologise, or even imprisoned at the pleasure of the Speaker for reporting accurately the fact that sometimes our elected representatives sleep on the job, make obscene gestures, or generally abuse each other like children.

Talk about setting the fox to watch the henhouse. Like the absolute monarchs of old, our elected representatives are resurrecting lese majeste to protect their overinflated egos from being punctured by their subjects voters' displeasure at the vulgarity of their behaviour. They are abusing their power to protect themselves from the political consequences of their own behaviour. And that is something we should not allow. The recent abuse of Parliamentary Privilege shows that a sovereign Parliament is just as dangerous as a sovereign monarch. It's time we emasculated it.

(Oh, and it appears that this image will now be considered a contempt. I await my summons from the Seargeant at Arms)

13 comments:

A disgrace. We wonder why there's such a strong antipathy to serious analysis of politics in this country...

Posted by Lewis : 6/26/2007 12:51:00 PM

Or to politicians. If they're wondering why the public regularly ranks politicians bottom of the trust scale, below even used-car salescreeps and internet spammers, there's the reason right there.

If MPs are concerned about looking bad on camera, perhaps they should start by looking at their own behaviour? because the stuff I hear over the radio from the House is pretty unedifying, and frequently makes me want to turn off in disgust.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 6/26/2007 12:54:00 PM

Shows they know how powerful an image can be (Ron Mark, total loss of credibility), pity they don't follow up with some substance.

Posted by MERC : 6/26/2007 01:03:00 PM

I can't say I'm too concerned over this. If it was anyone else's workplace*, I'd be totally opposed to total camera surveillance, and MPs are people too. I don't think there's a compelling public interest case for allowing it in parliament. MPs embarrassing themselves on camera is just a distraction from things that actually matter, ie the legislation they vote on and the consequences thereof.

(* with a few exceptions - the police, for example, could do with having all their actions recorded, since they're trusted with so much direct power over individuals)

Posted by Commie Mutant Traitor : 6/26/2007 01:15:00 PM

I don't think there's a compelling public interest case for allowing it in parliament. MPs embarrassing themselves on camera is just a distraction from things that actually matter, ie the legislation they vote on and the consequences thereof.

Well, CMT, I think we've done this go round before but I think it's a quite legitimate matter of public interest when a Minister of the Crown isn't attending to a debate on a bill because he's fucking asleep. If nothing else, a wee bit of public embarrassment might have prompted Mr. Benson Pope to make some lifestyle changes so he could better do the job we're paying him to do -- and FFS, I don't think it's actually unreasonable to expect MPs to be conscious while in the House, attending select committees, Cabinet, caucus etc.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 6/26/2007 01:44:00 PM

Yup, I have to agree with that. If a Minister of the Crown is being a totally useless prat, I want to see it.
Who can forget the B-P eye twitch...

Posted by MERC : 6/26/2007 01:49:00 PM

for the purpose of... ridicule

man. some MPs you won't be able to run footage of at all.

Posted by Lyndon : 6/26/2007 01:59:00 PM

Classic, yes they will effectively dissappear from relevance, perhaps that is their greatest fear, and why the term "Hollow Man" (or person, meh) is such a good one.
"All deck and no hull", springs to mind.

Posted by MERC : 6/26/2007 03:28:00 PM

How do you have sex whilst sleeping Craig?

Posted by muerk : 6/26/2007 04:48:00 PM

So let me get this straight - we're supposed to be sad that our elected representatives, as opposed to private corporations accountable only to their shareholders (if that), are controlling our footage of Parliament?

Gee, how awful

Posted by Daedalus_x : 6/26/2007 09:40:00 PM

This comment has been removed by the author. Posted by Craig Ranapia : 6/26/2007 11:02:00 PM

How do you have sex whilst sleeping Craig?

Muerk, with the amount of compulsive wanking, arse-licking, fellatio and buggery that goes on in the Chamber while they're awake, why should they stop just because they've passed out? (Sorry, cheap shot but it's hard to resist a set up like that.)

So let me get this straight - we're supposed to be sad that our elected representatives, as opposed to private corporations accountable only to their shareholders (if that), are controlling our footage of Parliament?

Well, yes, we should Dadelus. I'd note if MPs have any problems with how they're treated by these 'private corporations' (in which I presume you include state-owned TVNZ and Radio New Zealand) they have exactly the same recourse to the courts, the Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Press Council as anyone else.

And nobody is talking about putting live webcams in the Cabinet Room, MPs offices or any parties' caucus rooms. There are reasonable expectations of privacy, but I'd like to think the petty egotism of Parliamentarians who don't like being embarrassed by exposure of their own crass misconduct in the Debating Chamber isn't one of them.

I'd also note that in the Chamber, MPs have an almost unbound freedom to stand up and say whatever they like about anyone outside. At the risk of being done for contempt of Parliament, I'd say 'parliamentary privilege' is all too often perverted into a licence to lie - or at best show a reckless disregard for truth in the pursuit of media face time, on the part of people who know they're never going to be held accountable.

Perhaps when the Standing Orders Committee decides to take seriously blatant abuses of privilege by their own, I might give a flying fuck at a donut about their fragile self-esteem.

Posted by Craig Ranapia : 6/26/2007 11:37:00 PM

Craig: lol, you bad thing...

Posted by muerk : 6/27/2007 07:22:00 PM