Clerk argues for satire

Stuff reports:

’s top official has urged MPs to “grow up” and allow the official television feed to be used to mock them.

Mary Harris, Clerk of the House, told the Privileges Committee a ban on using footage of Parliament for satire may need to be relaxed “in this day and age”. …

Harris, whose seven-year term as Clerk ends on July 3, said the rules around satire were developed at a time when television was among the only ways of viewing Parliament, but with the proliferation of media the concerns had changed.

The rules have “been lifted in Australia [and] we borrowed our rules from Australia, and we maybe need to grow up,” Harris told the committee on Wednesday.

“I don’t think there’s a need to shelter Members [of Parliament] any longer.”

“It’s difficult to police. Once or twice Speakers have brought people in and given them a bit of a lecture about it but I think it’s a bit like slapping people with a wet bus ticket.”

I agree. The rule is ignored anyway, and satire is a good thing!

Harris said the committee may want to consider other changes, including expanding rules around photography to cover MPs taking photos in the House, as related only to footage taken from the public and press galleries.

Official footage of Parliament should also be allowed to show MPs misbehaving, Harris said.

“If members are going to be disorderly, they should be seen to be so.” …

Press Gallery chairwoman Claire Trevett told the committee the gallery backed the lifting of rules around disorder in the House, signalling that if there was an episode such as MPs brawling, the chances were media outlets may simply ignore the rules.

The idea behind that rule is to discourage MPs deliberately misbehaving so they get on TV, but they’re not really discouraged anyway. Another rule that can go.

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