Labour MP Dr Deborah Russell was “astounded” to learn that an insult spat at her in Parliament by National MP Nicky Wagner has been redacted from Hansard.
During the first reading of the Appropriation, and the Imprest Supply bills debate on 20 June this year, Dr Russell was meticulously dissecting a few of the many National Party lies about spending in health. Hansard initially recorded . . .
. . . showing Wagner interjecting “You are a bitch”. The revised Hansard still records other interjections made during Dr Russell’s speech but now omits Wagner’s insult.
[UPDATE: Wagner’s insult has been put back in Hansard.]
The discrepancy was spotted by @reedflemming, who remarked on the MSM’s silence on this matter. “It’s surprising”, he said, “this hasn’t been covered by media: a direct, personal attack made in the House, and then edited out of Hansard – and not Nicky Wagner’s first time covering up her statements!” @reedflemming’s latter aside appears to be a reference to Wagner’s slithering attempt to reframe her statement that she would “rather be out on the harbour” than hearing from disabled people. Or, perhaps, Wagner does have previous form when it comes to tweaking the official record?
Dr Russell tweeted, as part of the Twitter thread . . .
It should be noted that Dr Russell stopped her speech at the time of the insult and extracted a withdrawal and apology from Wagner. Assistant Speaker Adrian Rurawhe claimed not have heard the insult. And, Hansard stamps the word “draft” in great big letters on the record, presumably before it is actually printed and bound. Yet, the video does – just – capture the insult. Listen carefully at about 4:50 in. Obviously, the Hansard scribe heard it. Now “WE” have too.
Parliament’s “What Is Hansard” web page, states:
“In New Zealand’s democracy, it is important you can access what is said by the people you’ve voted for and who represent you. Hansard’s work to report what politicians say helps make them accountable to you. It also makes sure that New Zealand’s democracy is accessible and transparent to everyone. […] Editors follow strict rules on what changes they can make to what MPs said in the chamber. This makes sure that Hansard is as close to verbatim (word for word) as possible.
Can MPs ‘improve” on what they said?
No. MPs are provided draft copies of their speeches, at the same time that the speeches are first published on the Parliament website. There are strict rules about what changes they can request. They can ask for things like corrections to a wrong fact or figure.
Strict rules also decide what changes Hansard editors can make to what is said in the House […]
Speaker’s Ruling 4/3 is very clear too, when it comes to editing Hansard: “Alterations of meaning or substance are not allowed.” Also, a precis of the Speaker’s Rulings states:
Because words are withdrawn does not mean that they are expunged from the record; they are still part of the debate and are recorded in Hansard. Once words have been withdrawn that is the end of them in the House and the House continues with its business without further reference to them, but that does not mean they cannot be reported by the news media.
If these rulings and the general principles stated on Parliament’s website are actually applicable and not PR, the record should never have been changed in the first place – BUT – does the application of the term “draft” mean the rules don’t apply? The Parliamentary website says of “drafts” “The pencil icon indicates a draft text which may be subject to correction; the text itself will carry a draft watermark.” Correction doesn’t mean redaction.
Alas, this is not the first time Hansard has failed to accurately reflect all of what is said in Parliament. Going back over the Hansard for 5 December 2007 there seems to be no record of Michael Cullen accurately describing John Key as a “rich prick”, after Key insulted Helen Clark for not having children. It is recorded that Cullen did on the same day call Key a “scumbag”, a “coward” and a “braggart”. Bear in mind that the day before Key had directed one of his typically nasty remarks at Cullen’s wife. Cullen was seriously pissed off. Wagner, on the other hand, hurled her abuse in response to listening to the truth about National’s lies.
Funny what the MSM tells its consumers about, eh?