Prime Minister Helen Clark has indicated that she would like to see rules loosened over what media cameras can capture in Parliament's debating chamber.



It seems unlikely rules will be eased after Speaker Jonathan Hunt yesterday reacted angrily to recent media coverage by banning Wellington's Evening Post photographers from Parliament for a week.



The ban was intended to punish the newspaper for publishing a picture of National List MP Annabel Young yawning during debate on the Employment Relations Bill on Saturday. The picture brought a complaint from Act leader Richard Prebble.



Helen Clark was far less upset about the breach of Parliament's rules, which state that photographs or footage cannot be taken unless a member is standing to speak.

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"I suggest to Ms Young that probably one of the first lessons of politeness that she was taught as a child was to put her hand over her mouth when she yawned," Helen Clark said.



Asked to comment on the rules, she said she would be inclined to "loosen" them. "I mean, we are on public display there [in the House].



"If, for example, television were filming all the time as they do in some legislatures, you would have to expect that you were always on camera."



Mr Hunt floated the idea of banning television cameras and newspaper photographers altogether from Parliament's debating chamber.



Most democratic legislatures ran their own television broadcasts, giving news organisations a feed, he said.



"There are no other cameras allowed. Now, that is going to be a definite possibility here. We tried to do it on a trust basis but if they [the media] are not going to abide by it then this is a way [of dealing with it].



"I've long advocated broadcasting television from Parliament the same way that Britain and Australia has done. This is just leading towards it."



His concerns about television coverage also stem from recent events, in particular a story on One Network News on Sunday night.



It purported to show Helen Clark reacting in Parliament on Saturday to allegations by Opposition Leader Jenny Shipley about former Maori Affairs Minister Dover Samuels. Helen Clark was not in Parliament.



Television New Zealand gave Mr Hunt a written apology at a meeting with press gallery media yesterday.



Representatives were told that they could submit to him ideas for reviewing the rules, but meanwhile he planned to strictly enforce those that were in place.



Further breaches by television and newspapers would not be tolerated, he said.



Commonwealth Press Union New Zealand section chairman Richard Long, editor of Wellington's Dominion newspaper, said any move to limit media coverage of the debating chamber would be a step backwards.



"But if people are going to breach the agreements then possibly that's what we would be left with.



"That would be a pity because we've made some progress recently."



That included an agreement with the Speaker putting newspaper photographers on a more equal footing with television.



Mr Long did not want to comment on Mr Hunt's ruling, saying that was between the Speaker and the Evening Post.



- NZPA