Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:
Speaker David Carter has asked the Privileges Committee to draw up rules setting out the circumstances under which information such as security access details can be released, after concerns were raised that such details were used without permission to track the movements of United Future’s Peter Dunne and Fairfax reporter Andrea Vance. …
Mr Carter dismissed a complaint by Green Party co-leader Russel Norman against the Prime Minister over the issue, but said Dr Norman’s complaint did raise serious issues that the Privileges Committee was best-placed to look into.
“The exercise of intrusive powers against members threatens members’ freedom to carry out their functions as elected representatives and the House’s powers to control its own proceedings and precincts without outside interference.”
He said the release of information relating to journalists working in Parliament also raised concerns.
“While the media do not necessarily participate directly in Parliamentary proceedings, they are critical to informing the public about what Parliament is doing and public confidence in Parliament. Actions which may put at risk journalists’ ability to report freely are a significant concern.”
However, Mr Carter said Parliament was also a workplace for Parliamentary and Government department staff, so access to such data also had to pay regard to the rights of employers and employees.
“I believe some common understanding is required to ensure that on the one hand, the functioning of the House and discharge of members’ duties is not obstructed or impeded, but on the other hand the maintenance of law and order and the ability to investigate and prosecute offences committed within the Parliamentary precincts is preserved.”
This is a good decision. Some clarity on this issue would be welcome. As I previously said, I thought the decision to access and release the swipe card details of a journalist was the wrong call.