Speaker Lookwood Smith is getting a lot of flak for his decision to punish The Herald for publishing a photo (taken in violation of Standing Orders) by banning their reporters from Parliament for ten days. It seems pretty clear that Smith has gone overboard on the letter of the law, instead of considering the intent. There’s plenty of coverage, here’s an example from 3News:
Herald ban sets ‘extremely concerning precedent’
The Press Gallery at Parliament is calling the ten-day ban of New Zealand Herald journalists “extraordinary” and says it sets an “extremely concerning precedent”. Ten Herald journalists will be kicked out of Parliament for 10 days after their website published an image of the man who tried to leap from the public gallery into the debating chamber.
The image was taken without the Speaker’s permission by Herald journalist Audrey Young who was sitting at the press bench at the time. She took the photo with her phone and it was published later that day. Standing Orders, which are the rules in Parliament, forbid images being taken in the public gallery – a rule which aims to discourage protests. …
The ban has infuriated political media, with Press Gallery chairperson Jane Patterson saying the move is “extraordinary” and sets an “extremely concerning precedent”. “Reporters are individually accredited and take responsibility for their own actions, but to suspend a whole office on the basis of one person’s actions is unfair and disproportionate.” She says the ban will affect the “critical role [of the media] in the democratic process” and deprives the paper’s readership in the lead-up to this year’s election.
The Engineering, Print and Manufacturing Union (EPMU), which represents journalists, has also joined in on the fight, calling the Speaker’s ban “heavy-handed” and an “over-reaction”.
I’d bet on Smith backing down fairly promptly. The last thing the Nats want is to piss off the media this close to the election. Who knows, they might decide to drag out and dust off this old chestnut…