Friday, March 18, 2005

Sitting on the Speaker

Poor Margaret Wilson. A huge row with the media about the televizing of parliament becoming a monopoly (so that the nasty news media would no longer be able to show naughty stuff like pictures of David Benson-Pope sleeping in the house) is being damped down by the Ninth Floor (thanks to Rodney for both links). So Margaret looks inept for starting the fuss in the first place by treating a verbal assurance by her predecessor as not being worth the paper it was written on and she looks weak in being overridden by the Prime Minister. Although not unexpected, this is constitutionally improper as the Speaker is supposed to be the Presiding Officer of Parliament, not of a creature of Helen Clark. Until now, this was something that only Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen did when he was Premier of Queensland.

A silver lining in this fiasco might be that the Prime Minister is now ministerially responsible for the Speaker's Office and can be asked about the Speaker's decisions during Question Time. I live in hope anyhow...