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Televising Parliament - the rules change! Why?



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M EDIA RELEASE

13 October 1992

Shadow Minister for Communications Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives

WARWICK SMITH M.P. .

TELEVISING PARLIAMENT - THE RULES CHANGE! WHY?

The Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Hon Leo McLeay, has unilaterally moved to override the House Select Committee on Televising, of which he was chairman t;v ' ; _

The Televising of the House of Representatives Committee Report, "The Eyes Have It" recommended a series of guidelines in August 1991 for the provision of sound and vision footage of the proceedings of the House.

The first Camera Operator's guideline was: "1. As a general principle cameras should focus on the Member with the call. Shots should be no closer than 'head and shoulders'."

These guidelines were accompanied by the recommendation that: "(b) the guidelines be further reviewed prior to the end of the Autumn Sitting of the House in 1993."

In part of my Question to the Speaker yesterday, I asked: "The Sound and Vision Office advises that, according to your directive, when a member takes a point of order during Question Time, rather than a head and shoulders shot, which has been the practice up until your direction, it now goes to a wide angle shot. / ask whether this secret directive you have given will be subject . to an explanation from you to the Parliament? / ask you to do so? It appears to me that fundamentally it does not accord with the primary guideline the House has set down for the broadcast of these proceedings."

The Speakers motives for directing these changes are important. A full explanation should be given; rather than the cursory response of yesterday. The Speaker took it upon himself to direct changes that contradict his Committee's findings.

This matter is a material change to televising procedures. It must be returned to the full Televising of the House of Representatives Standing Committee for discussion. That Committee is the proper body to determine such issues.

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