30 Sep 2019

Simon Bridges hopes 'sense prevails' over parliamentary footage use

5:17 am on 30 September 2019

The National Party says to break an impasse with the Speaker, it would consider making a U-turn and support official footage being used for political advertising.

Simon Bridges.

Simon Bridges said National has ended up in the "worst of all worlds". Photo: RNZ / Ana Tovey

National Party MPs are now flouting a law they endorsed in 2017 and have thumbed their nose at the Speaker over his ruling all political attack ads with edited parliamentary TV footage had to be removed on Friday.

The majority of National Party MPs posted a video on social media in breach of Trevor Mallard's ruling, potentially putting the entire caucus in contempt of Parliament.

Mr Mallard has declined to comment on the matter.

It comes on the back of a complaint from the Labour Party last week about the footage being used without MPs' permission and in a misleading way.

The most recent example of the ads is Labour MP Deborah Russell being mocked for her spiel on ancient philosophers and their tenuous connection to the government's well-being Budget.

That is the ad the National Party caucus posted en masse just as the ban kicked in.

Mr Bridges said his party is open to removing restrictions on footage being used but "we'll ultimately have to run through those arguments".

Mr Bridges maintains the Deborah Russell video is not in breach, yet the party has been blocked from posting any more because of it - despite the Speaker not referring the matter to the Privileges Committee.

He said Mr Mallard has put National in the "worst of all worlds" by not sending it to the Privileges Committee, instead sending it back to the Standing Orders Committee, which only makes changes once a term.

"I hope that sense prevails ... and that in fact what we see is discussion about the way forward to get new rules but without a political gagging order on the National Party in the meantime,'' he said.

In 2017, as part of a review of Parliament's rules, the conditions for the use of official television coverage loosened.

MPs representing all parties agreed to drop the ban on using coverage of proceedings for "satire, ridicule or denigration", but were happy to stick with the rule footage must not be used for political advertising or elections campaigning (except with the permission of all members shown) or for commercial sponsorship or commercial advertising.

A spokesperson for the Leader of the House Chris Hipkins said Mr Bridges is using this to distract from the issues that really matter.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs