Independent MP Peter Wellington
Independent MP Peter Wellington Cade Mooney

Wellington out of order: Simpson

QUEENSLAND'S Speaker says a Sunshine Coast MP's plan to criticise a TV camera ban in parliament was "out of order".

Independent Nicklin MP Peter Wellington described the ban, for nine parliament sitting days, as "antiquated" and the security concerns as "rubbish".

He made the comments as he signalled on Tuesday he would move a motion of notice dissenting from the ban, describing it as a form of censorship.

Speaker and Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson told parliament on Wednesday she had taken advice and such a notice would be out of order.

She said motions of dissent could only be raised on speaker rulings, not matters of order.

The ban was in response to television stations broadcasting footage of a civil union protest which Ms Simpson said breached the media access policy.

She said television stations would have to use the official parliamentary broadcast feed.

The media policy says events in the galleries are not part of the official proceedings and should not be shown.
Ms Simpson said the ban was discretionary and "not appealable by the chamber".

She said the press gallery was subject to the general control of the speaker who would make rules for its members when required.

Ms Simpson said there had been reminders the footage should not be recorded or broadcast so she took the action as aggravated when deciding to impose the ban.


MP dubs banning as 'censorship'

QUEENSLAND Speaker Fiona Simpson has ordered a safety review of Parliament after banning TV cameras from the floor of the chamber for nine days following a gay rights protest.

Ms Simpson told Parliament that although people had a right to express their opinion, others had a right to hear the voices of their MPs without them being drowned out by protesters.

"It is unacceptable for those wishing to express their opinions to do so in a way that impedes on the voice of members of parliament or that impinges on the safety of other members of the public," the Member for Maroochydore said.

"In addition, I have concerns regarding the physical constraints of the public gallery and the implications of this for dealing with prohibited behaviour.

"Therefore, I have ordered the procurement of a thorough independent review into safety and security with respect to the chamber and the parliamentary precinct."

Sunshine Coast independent MP Peter Wellington gave notice that he would move a motion of dissent to Ms Simpson's ruling.

"It certainly appears to me to be censorship, but I need to walk that fine line, otherwise the Speaker might say you've criticised the Speaker and throw me out of Parliament," Mr Wellington said.

A poll on the Sunshine Coast Daily's website showed more than 70% of respondents believed Ms Simpson had gone too far.

Ms Simpson cited a breach of the Parliament's media access policy, which stated that events in the galleries were not part of the official proceedings.

The policy states that cameras should focus only on whichever MP has "the call" to speak. When there are disturbances in the gallery, the incident is not meant to be shown.

Protesters disrupted proceedings in Parliament for about five minutes last month as MPs pushed through changes to water down same-sex civil union laws.

Ms Simpson said the broadcast of footage of the protesters "demonstrated disregard for standing orders and the current policies" and could lead to public safety issues.

But Mr Wellington said: "I believe Queenslanders have a right to see what is happening in their Parliament.

"It's ridiculous to me that in 2012, the year of the electronic age, for some reason we cannot have media footage of what's happening in the public gallery."

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