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NRT: Parliamentary Privilege vs Suppression Orders

Written By: - Date published: 4:08 pm, February 10th, 2015 - 27 comments
Categories: law, Parliament, suppression orders - Tags:

I/S at No Right Turn on the most interesting event at the first session of Parliament for 2015. The Speaker’s actions open up a complicated can of legal worms, and it will be interesting to see how they are reported, but note that we will be maintaining strict observance of the suppression order (comments moderated if necessary). (Update: Further discussion on Twitter)(Update: Rob Salmond at Polity also expresses his surprise, and links to the video – see 13:20…)

Parliamentary Privilege vs Suppression Orders

A little over a week ago, a suppressed New Zealand court issued a blanket suppression order suppressing the identity of a “prominent New Zealander”, the offences they have been charged with, and even the location of the issuing court. There may be good reasons for this suppression order – to protect the identity of victims, for example – but as the court apparently didn’t bother to explain that, the natural conclusion is that it was done solely to protect that “prominent New Zealander”‘s reputation.

Of course, it didn’t fool anyone. We all know who it is; the media just aren’t allowed to talk about it. Which makes reporting on other current events pretty difficult at the moment.

But the interesting bit is that the Speaker of the House, while cautioning MPs on the need to obey the suppression order and maintain comity with the judiciary, just broke it himself. And in doing so, he’s ensured that everyone else can report on it.

Why? Because last year, in a response to a couple of defamation cases which saw MPs sued for repeating outside the House stuff they’d said inside it, Parliament passed the Parliamentary Privilege Act 2014. The bill introduced the concept of “qualified immunity”, which provides “immunity from any civil or criminal liability” for accurately reporting on Parliamentary proceedings and for rebroadcasting Parliamentary proceedings. The upshot: it appears to be legal to report on or re-broadcast the Speaker’s ruling and its context, which together violate the suppression order.

Note: “appears”. I Am Not A Lawyer, and you shouldn’t risk jail on my opinion. You should also note that the immunity is qualified; it does not apply to people who “abused the occasion of communication” or to those who repeat parliamentary proceedings in bad faith or “with a predominant motive of ill will”. But I think it would be a very long stretch for a court to find that an honest media report of this incident (which perhaps explains a few other things going on at the moment) could be found to be an abuse. But with stuck-up judges defending their privileges, who can tell?

27 comments on “NRT: Parliamentary Privilege vs Suppression Orders ”

  1. Linda 1

    I am sure sir leßion Britten and his mates all had protection to these prominate people hide behind a cloak of deception rolf Harris that Gary glitter Catholic church there just scum the whole lot of them

    • One Anonymous Bloke 1.1

      Yeah, but those right wing sadists in the UK all had loads of support from the government of the day: that’s how they got away with it for so long.

  2. Hawk 2

    If the Speaker has broken suppression orders, then that is really disgraceful….

  3. McFlock 3

    can the speaker be referred to the privileges committee?

    • mickysavage 3.1

      It may be that tomorrow Carter will refuse to accept any questions that relate to the suppressed case in question on the basis that pretty well all of the details are suppressed. There may have been a method to the madness …

  4. Tom Jackson 4

    Carter on Team Jude or Team Bill?

  5. whateva next? 5

    It was as though it was the only bit of Little’s speech the speaker was interested in, sat there waiting for him to mention to the unmentionable. Up shot the speaker, and in so doing, tangled the web National have woven for themselves even more, meanwhile Dr.Strangelove had tried to window dress all the wondrous things that National have achieved to distract from dismal reality of their tenure.
    All a bit surreal, as despite the super suppression order, by now, in the real world, most people know what is what.

    • Lanthanide 5.1

      “by now, in the real world, most people know what is what.”

      No, I think “most people” really do not.

      • Skinny 5.1.1

        I Agree most people would not have a clue given the totality of the blackout. 1-100 would be my guess.

        A dirty convention center deal, off to war and this cover up. The wheels are burning out.

      • freedom 5.1.2

        There are definitely people who have very little understanding of the extent of the suspicions. There are those without the net obviously. Then the people who don’t ever want to hear anything about politics. You must also include the considerable number of people, who even with the net, do not access news services outside of the MSM.

        I Caught up with a friend earlier today who primarily relies on Free to air TV for news. No net, almost no newspaper service, and their understanding of the situation led them to think there had been a bit of biffo with a family member.

        That’s when we ordered a second coffee.

      • Tracey 5.1.3

        And the herald is reporting that peters accused Key of dying his hair, as their online piece of most importance today… so no, most don’t know what is what


  6. Te Reo Putake 6

    If I can be contrarian for a moment, is it at all possible that the Speaker, David Carter, is a man of integrity, ethics and high moral standing who, in his disgust at the PM’s corruption, has deliberately chosen to breach the suppression order in the House in order to allow the media to publicly connect the dots?

    Ok, it’d be the first time since Marilyn Waring walked that a Nat showed a tendency toward independent thought, but it’s worth considering.

    • tc 6.1

      Based on carters previous efforts I’d say that incredibly generous of you TRP, another Homer Simpson moment that will burn through the CT retainer like Brownlee through a buffet.

      • mickysavage 6.1.1

        It may be that Carter’s response will mean that questions on the issue that cannot be referred to cannot now be allowed and there is a suppression order stopping discussion of the issue that cannot be mentioned generally in the media. Dots may have been joined but the move may stop Parliament from considering the issue further.

    • freedom 6.2

      David Carter might be a Speaker with a strong bias but when he got to his feet the second time, there seemed no doubt as to why he was doing so. He wanted to confirm the House understood any connection between a suppressed Court case and the recent resignation of a National Party MP is not to be discussed.

      If questioned about the second warning, he can say he wanted to confirm to the House how after considerable consideration, the connection between a suppressed Court case and [r0b: deleted – I’m being overcautious on this one] was a subject that was most certainly not to be discussed.

      • tc 6.2.1

        Yes top work from dynamo dave.

      • Tracey 6.2.2

        Let’s not forget the obvious… that National is SO sensitive about this that Carter thought he was helping and wasnt bright enough to know he had done the opposite.

    • Tracey 6.3

      and remember Hager thanked some national party staff for information toward Dirty Politics. Everyone is not all bad 😉

      • adam 6.3.1

        I know a few conservatives, who are disgusted with Key and co. of late. Indeed, had a major shock at dinner the other night, when a person I consider a Key supporter through and through – called Key, furtive.

        • SaveNZ

          The house of Key has leaky building syndrome

          Been rotting for quite some time and now the structure is starting to fail…

  7. Treetop 7

    The house was so quiet when Carter raised the suppression of a court case.

    In Key’s opening speech he forgot to mention that Little is a lawyer and that he is the right Labour leader at the right time.

  8. Stuart Munro 8

    The Gnats looking more and more like The Ship That Died Of Shame.

  9. rawshark-yeshe 9

    Two words only … Derryn Hinch. Won’t matter what Carter says and Key doesn’t say.

  10. Jeeves 11

    So did he actually do it or not?
    Did he commit the outrage alleged?

    Or are we just not allowed talk about it?
    This is not right!!

    THis is a very important case of freedom of speech versus crazy suppression orders!!!

    And ordinary Kiwis are being confused by these parliamentary and court shenanigans to the point that they aren’t clear what it’s all about. It almost seems as though this is a deliberate tactic to confuse and obfuscate the secret act behind all this.

    Someone needs to take a stand –

    Well here goes-

    I don’t think it’s dyed, I think its natural.

    And I think he looks very handsome.

    Beautiful, almost.

    You go John Key ! You go Great Leader!

    Now- come and arrest me if you want- at least I stand for Truth!

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