Queensland’s government loves goat races but has cut funding to the arts, health and welfare and is making world headlines with its sudden rollback of LGBTI rights. Now its censoring TV cameras from its ruthless Parliamentary rulings.
Video cameras are now banned from the floor of Queensland Parliament until late August, after news programs broadcast footage of a protest over civil unions last month. Speaker Fiona Simpson issued a ruling that suspends television camera access for the next nine parliamentary sitting days. Instead, television stations must simply make use of the official parliamentary broadcast feed.
The temporary ban has been blamed on a breach of media access policy, which states that events in the galleries not part of the official proceedings cannot be filmed, and that cameras should only focus on the MP who has “the call” to speak. If and when there are disturbances in the gallery, the incident is not meant to be shown. As many of you are aware, last month protesters disrupted the proceedings in parliament as MPs swiftly pushed through changes to water down the civil unions bill.
Here’s the evening’s events which led to Parliament’s new ban on video cameras:
The changes pushed through that evening saw the removal of state-sanctioned ceremonies and also renamed civil unions as ‘registered relationships’. Almost one hundred protesters were escorted from the public gallery after taking outspoken offence at comments made by MPs during the debate.
Speaker Fiona Simpson told the Brisbane Times that the breaches occurred across all television networks and were an “unacceptable form of behaviour”. She said an “equally severe penalty” must be imposed, with television cameras excluded for nine sitting days. Access to the official broadcast feed would remain.
However, many are feeling that the extreme penalty is unwarranted and is simply a case of the Queensland Government attempting censorship.
Seven reporter Patrick Condren who has fired back at Simpson’s decision, reports The Australian. “As this is the first time any breach has occurred during this parliament the Gallery finds the penalty excessive, particularly as there was no warning issued as per the guidelines,” he commented.
“The Gallery has enjoyed an excellent relationship with previous speakers who were willing to discuss any issues that arose in an effort to find a positive way forward.
“It disturbs us that you banned the free-to-air television cameras without any discussion whatsoever and with no apparent avenue for us to appeal.”
Condren reportedly offered Simpson the opportunity to sit down with the four gallery television journalists to discuss the issue, but is still yet to secure a meeting.
Sunshine Coast MP Peter Wellington has also criticised the ban. “It certainly appears to me to be censorship,” he said, announcing that he would make a motion of notice dissenting from the ban. “I believe Queenslanders have a right to see what is happening in their Parliament.”
Many from the the LGBTI community in Queensland are feeling that the media ban is just another way that the current Queensland government is continually trying to silence an obviously oppressed minority group in Queensland.
On top of all this, while the government continues to cut funding across the board, affecting the arts, health and welfare, the Queensland government has announced that it will be funding the Barcaldine Goat Races and Expo with $15,000. A town populated with just over 1,300 people is being funded to promote what many animal welfare experts claim is a barbaric and cruel sport equating to Spanish bullfights.
Take funding away from healthy communities, an organisation that focusses on the health and wellbeing of the the LGBTI community, but fund a once a year event that promotes animal cruelty? One must wonder if this is prioritising or ignorance. While I personally believe tourism is important I believe this kind of funding would be better directed into more stable forms of tourism that reach a broader demographic.
Funding cuts, changes to the civil unions bill and the proposed removal of same-sex couple’s rights to surrogacy. It is unprecedented in Australia’s history that rights that have been given by left-wing leaders are so swiftly being taken away by a brand new government in power that seems to hold no accountability. Now with a media ban on parliamentary sittings, one can only wonder what else we’ll see at risk. Perhaps the right to publicly protest?
This Saturday a protest outside the Hilton during the LNP state conference is being held to protest the government’s recent decisions regarding the defunding of healthy communities and to address civil unions, surrogacy rights and censorship. For full details click here.
It seems like democracy might be dying in Queensland but at least we have goat races!