New rules for media-related activity in Parliament House and its precincts

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New rules for media-related activity in Parliament House and its precincts

Posted 5/12/2012 by Nicholas Horne

On 28 November 2012 the Presiding Officers issued new rules for media-related activity in Parliament House and its precincts. The rules will come into effect with the commencement of the 2013 parliamentary sittings on 5 February 2013 replacing the previous rules and guidelines on filming and photography (issued December 2008). The rules will apply to all occupants of Parliament House and visitors to the building and its precincts.

The rules are issued under the Parliamentary Precincts Act 1988 (Cth) and operate alongside resolutions of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings. The rules state that media-related activity includes: conducting interviews; seeking public comment from individuals; photography for print or online publication; ‘sound and vision recording for radio or television broadcast or web streaming’; and ‘any other digital capture of text, images or sound for broadcast purposes or public distribution’.

The rules specify locations in public and private areas where media-related activity is prohibited, permitted, or permitted with approval and set out conditions for approvals where required. The rules also deal with media coverage of parliamentary proceedings and specify penalties for non-compliance.

The new rules introduce four guiding principles: 
  • ‘openness and accessibility of the Parliament’
  • ‘facilitation of fair and accurate reporting by the media of parliamentary proceedings’
  • respect for the privacy of parliamentarians and ‘other building occupants and visitors’, and
  • ‘non-interference with the operations of the Parliament’ or the ability of parliamentarians and other occupants to fulfil their duties. 

Main differences between the new rules and the previous rules include: 
  • the new rules provide greater clarity regarding where media-related activity is prohibited, permitted or permitted with approval in public and private areas
  • the new rules prohibit the digital manipulation of broadcast material or still photographs of parliamentary proceedings
  • a restriction in the previous rules on filming, and the use of still photography of chamber proceedings, for satire or ridicule has been removed
  • the new rules set out a range of penalties that may be applied for non-compliance (for example denial of access to all chamber galleries for a sitting week). 

While the previous restriction on filming and the use of still photography of chamber proceedings for satire or ridicule has been removed from the media rules, restrictions on the use of broadcasts of chamber proceedings for the purposes of satire and ridicule are still in place in the resolutions of the Senate and the House of Representatives and in the Joint Committee on the Broadcasting of Parliamentary Proceedings’ conditions of access to Senate and House proceedings for recording and broadcasting. This discrepancy may be rectified in the future.

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