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National’s faux outrage

Written By: - Date published: 8:35 am, September 27th, 2019 - 33 comments
Categories: Dr Deborah Russell, national, Parliament, same old national, Simon Bridges, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, you couldn't make this shit up - Tags:

National’s social media attack team has been hit by further problems.  As part of their ongoing denigration campaign they spliced together film of Deborah Russell speaking in Parliament.  They took a whole lot of her comments out of context and joined them all together randomly to suggest that she was out of touch and too academic.

Deborah took it remarkably well:

Kieran McAnulty wrote to Speaker Mallard about the advertisement.  The justification for doing so is quite clear.  It breached Parliament’s Standing Orders and in particular part B of Schedule D which says:

Official television coverage of the House is made available on the
following conditions … [c]overage of proceedings must not be used in any medium for … political advertising or election campaigning (except with the permission of all members shown).”

This is pretty clear doncha think?  Don’t use the official coverage in an ad, particularly an attack ad, unless you have the member’s or members’ permission.

Mallard thought so.  In his ruling he said:

Mr McAnulty’s letter has highlighted the existence of a range of videos posted by different parties that use footage of members for political advertising. I would be very surprised if those members had given permission, as the rules clearly require. While there has been some discussion around what constitutes a political advertisement, it is clear to me that the videos that support one party or aim to reduce support for another party are the sorts of items covered by Appendix D of the Standing Orders. That view is further reinforced by the description of the video as an “attack ad” in the material Mr Bridges referred to me.

I encourage all parties to consider the videos that they may have posted online. Those using official Parliament TV footage that has been edited and featuring other members without their permission should be removed by 5 p.m. on Friday, 27 September.

His reasoning  seems perfectly valid.  It is hard to think how to bend the words so that unconsented use of parliamentary film could be used in an attack ad.

But rather than admit it was wrong National chose to hit the rhetoric button and described the move as “censorship at the extreme”.  From Jason Walls at the Herald:

Bridges on Thursday called the decision an “attempt at stopping the Opposition from highlighting what goes on in Parliament is a chilling move designed to stop freedom of expression”.

“Sound bites have been used this way for decades in all forms of media and by all New Zealand political parties,” he said.

“National believes it is important for New Zealanders to see how their elected representatives perform in Parliament.”

Bridges rejected the video of Russell was false or misleading.

“The video did not attack or criticise the Labour Party or the Government. It accurately reflects Dr Russell’s speech to Parliament about the meaning of ‘wellbeing’,” he said.

“When National was in Government, Labour also used footage from Parliament. Often heavily edited. We didn’t complain as we stood by our record and we encourage political debate.”

He should complain to whoever was in Government when the latest version of the standing orders was passed.  That would be National in 2017.  Previous versions with the same rule was passed under the last National Government in 2011 and 2014.

Rules are rules.  If National wants to change the rules it should raise this with the Privileges Committee and seek a Parliamentary consensus to do so.

Until then it should stick to the rules.  And while it is at it it should also stick to those relating to the use of false and misleading advertising.

Updated: lprent: Andrew Geddis provides a look at the legal side.

However the most amusing part was the section where he pointed out who Simon Bridges should blame for the existing rules not being relaxed in 2017. 

And who was opposed to further relaxation of these rules? Well, according to Labour’s Chris Hipkins in the House yesterday – with National’s Gerry Brownlee agreeing – it was then governing National Party. And who was a member of the Committee that reviewed the Standing Orders? A young tyro by the name of Simon Bridges. 

And who then recommended that the House adopt the amended Standing Orders, which continued to prohibit the use of TV footage for political advertising? Have a watch here and see (hint: it was Simon Bridges).

33 comments on “National’s faux outrage ”

  1. It accurately reflects Dr Russell’s speech to Parliament …

    It doesn't surprise me that Bridges thinks chopping someone's speech up to make it incomprehensible so that he can mock them for being incomprehensible is best described as "accurately reflecting" their speech. I don't think he's capable of telling the difference.

    • lprent 1.1

      I'd agree, I can seldom see any sense in Simon Bridges incoherent mumblings.

      However I remember this start of parliamentary TV broadcasting and the conditions under which it was allowed by parliament. The reason for having this rules was specifically to prevent the cutting up of parliamentary debate into out of context segments. It was viewed as having a chilling effect on debate because it forces our parliamentarians to break up their speeches into meaningless sound bites – which appears to me to be why Simon Bridges always appears to incoherent – he is serving up soundbites for TV and radio.

      National (and any other party or person) should be aware of and follow the rules. The correct place as Micky points out to change that rule that National suddenly doesn't like is within parliament.

      There the basis of their objections and any by the public can be examined in detail.

      But I guess that National are just whiners who want one set of rules and laws for them – different from those that govern real people.

  2. Pat 2

    "And who then recommended that the House adopt the amended Standing Orders, which continued to prohibit the use of TV footage for political advertising? Have a watch here and see (hint: it was Simon Bridges)."


  3. Anne 3

    Well, a former speaker, Kerry Burke shot National down in flames on RNZ this morning. He said (and I paraphrase):

    he never thought the parliamentary rules would be used in this way. It's an attack on democracy to edit and distort what has happened in parliament and Mallard was right to ban it from happening again.


  4. Dukeofurl 4

    Seems Bridges is threatening " legal action" – emboldened no doubt by the UK Supreme court order or because hes a dickhead lawyer

    • lprent 4.1

      He has approximately no hope with that. It isn’t a constitutional issue, involves the highest court in the land (parliament) which is self-administering, and he already has recourse. Moreover from memory they’re due to relook at the parliamentary rules next year

      Simon Bridges is just a child whimpering for attention.

  5. Formerly Ross 5

    National could of course go rogue and show us a video of all their accomplishments and what they hope to achieve in the future.

  6. Stuart Munro. 6

    They remind me increasingly of House Harkonnen, irrational, sociopathic, genetically suspect, believe they are born to rule. Pieter DeVries is evidently missing in action however, maybe on a trip to Gamont, and they're all out of Yuehs.

  7. tc 7

    A half decent media would be playing him like a harp, ask a reasonable question then run off with the comedy gold response and craft a piece from it.

    Yet he gets to dribble unchallenged in public again and again, nice work if you can get it.

  8. Hooch 8

    Right on cue the moaning has started with Pete Williams and kiwiblog. Funny how tough they are on law and order and obeying rules but only when it suits them.

    • Gabby 8.1

      Laws are for the peasants, not gawd's anointed.

    • michelle 8.2

      well people are right we only have to look at sarah dowie getting off her threatening texts to jamie ross and she got no charges and this was one of their pieces of legislation they (national) pushed for, wasn't it the digital harmful communications act. blah blah and it seems it is blah blah because it seems it doesn't apply to everyone only the nz peasants.

  9. gsays 9

    The angle I want to be explored, by a non 'embedded' journo, is about the "soft attack on democracy".

    Ask Gerry Brownlee how hard on the democracy the replacing of ECAN was.

  10. riffer 10

    14 minutes until the deadline and the Deborah Russell clip is still on their Facebook.

    I think they're taking the piss.

  11. JustMe 11

    Simon Bridges is doing such an expert job at making the NZ National Party look stupid that we should really compliment him.

    I am so glad someone invented the TV remote control because every time he appears on the telly I reach for the remote control. And all he looks with his mouth movement is totally clownish.

    Mind you I also turn off the sound if Paula Bennett is on because like Bridges she isn't worth listening to either.

  12. In Vino 12

    Are the National Party that stupid? From what I heard from Graeme Edgeler in RNZ this afternoon, Mallard is not making up a new rule: he is enforcing a rule already in Standing Orders that, last time SO was being revised, the National Party itself insisted on retaining!

    Talk about hoisting oneself by one's own petard..

    If the Gnats are stupid enough to break the very rule that they insisted should be retained, they deserve the full penalty of breaking that rule.

  13. riffer 13

    So I've been reading Standing Order and searching for more information, and it seems to me that this is very clearly a case of refusing to comply with the Speakers Orders, but I can't for the life of me find out what recourse the Speaker has.

    Is it just a case of naming every single MP that is in contempt of the House? If so, that doesn't do much.

    Can the Speaker actually send the entire bunch of them on enforced leave for something like this, or is there actually bugger all he can do about it?

    Can a more learned mind than mine assist here?

    • Fireblade 13.1

      What could Mallard do now?

      Paraphrasing from The NZ Herald:
      The Speaker would now have to receive a formal complaint and refer it to Parliament's Privileges Committee.

      The committee would decide on any breach and the penalty. The penalty could range from ordering an apology to a $1000 fine. Parliament would then vote on whether to impose the penalty.

      It's unclear if the penalty would apply to the entire party or individual MPs.


      • In Vino 13.1.1

        If the speaker is powerless in this case, discipline in Parliament is lost, and democracy is truly threatened – not in the pathetic, token way that the Nats were sqealing about.

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