30 Sep 2019

Parliament TV attack ads: Rule review brought forward

3:20 pm on 30 September 2019

The review of Parliament's rules around using Parliamentary TV footage has been brought forward following a Labour Party complaint about National's attack ads.

National Party leader Simon Bridges.

National Party leader Simon Bridges. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The Speaker ruled on Thursday that all attack ads featuring MPs' without their permission and using edited official footage should be removed by the next day, with the standing orders committee then meeting and agreeing to expedite the review.

The closing date for submissions has been brought forward to 16 October, so it can be dealt with as a separate and urgent matter.

The submissions period for all other rules being reviewed will continue to be to the end of October.

Public hearings for all other matters will follow the usual process and a report will be made public next year.

National MPs defied the Speaker on Friday by posting the attack ad of Labour MP Deborah Russell after the ban had been put in place.

National Party leader Simon Bridges told RNZ on Sunday he would consider reversing the party's position and formally allow official footage to be used for political advertising to break an impasse with the Speaker.

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.

Mr Mallard has declined to comment on the matter.

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 isn't 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 had 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 stuck 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.

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