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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29398

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (3:35 PM) —Mr Speaker, I have a question of you. You might recall that last night in this House I raised the issue of the need for more privacy laws related to the use or misuse of mobile phones, particularly mobile phone cameras, and the incorporation of an audible signal when a photo is being taken. I wonder if you could clarify your guidelines in relation to the use of mobile phones and mobile phone cameras in this House. The reason I ask that is that yesterday during a division a senior government minister took a picture of this side of the House. They certainly did not deny it when confronted with that and continued to use the phone—I suspect to transmit the picture. There was probably no ill intention in this, but surely this is contrary to acceptable House practice, contrary to the privacy of members of this House and disrespectful of members of this House.

The SPEAKER —Let me indicate to the member for Braddon that I am unaware of the instance to which he refers. In defence, not only of all members of the House but of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, who abide by regulations laid down by the Presiding Officers and enforced by the Joint House Committee, I would, of course, consider any use of a camera on the floor of the House to be quite improper and inappropriate. I am including in that mobile phones. As far as I recall, there was an issue like this 12 months ago over SMS messages. It was generally agreed that, while computers are allowed on the floor of the chamber, the use of SMS messages should, at best, be very discreet in order not to distract anyone else. I see messaging, as everyone else would, as quite separate from telephone calls or the use of phones as a camera. Any use of a camera would be inappropriate.