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New Zealand's elected representatives are a hard working bunch. Those laws don't legislate themselves! The press gallery is always abuzz, as they film the MPs hard at work debating the fine points of laws, making sure our society is running smoothly, and absolutely doing their best to make sure every generous dollar of the taxpayers' money they receive is being spent well.

Which is why the Members of Parliament weren't thrilled when the press gallery started focussing on the fact that they sleep through sessions, play games on cell phones, pick their noses, and generally don't give a shit. I'm fairly certain this is the same behaviour typical of most teenagers in school... Except most secondary schools actually require their students to turn up, whereas Parliament is usually half empty. There is no truant officer for Parliament, and they damn well know it.

So, naturally the first thing they did was to try to pass a law censoring coverage of parliament. The press gallery would only be allowed to film or photograph MPs who were awake and actually paying attention to what was going on. Initially this only covered film, I assume because they didn't actually realise that newspapers have photographs. Some ministers (presumably the ones who need naptime the most) actually wanted to ban all pictures and film footage of parliament in session. The argument in favour of total censorship was that media coverage of the poor behaviour of the representatives brought parliament into disrepute.

If you're thinking the media were angry about all this, you'd be right.

In fact, the whole country was angry about this. Everyone realised that the move to hide the parliamentary proceedings was a shameful attempt to conceal the fact that they were being paid to sleep the day away. Many also realised that without media scrutiny, they would probably get up to no good. The idea that without scrutiny of the proceedings they would pass all kinds of evil, self-serving laws was also presented by some of the more paranoid commentators. Given that most newspapers keep their readership numbers high by focussing on anything other than boring, tedious, and above all unsexy Parliamentary proceedings, it's probably admirable that they managed to remember their supposed role as guardians of democracy at all.

So a solution was reached. The government created Parliament TV, which started broadcasting in October of 2007. It was to be run by the New Zealand Parliament - the name for "the people who make government happen". Today it's managed by an external company on behalf of the Parliament services, who probably have enough to do as it is. Parliament TV provides coverage of Parliamentary proceedings for the media, only without the fascinating and educational insights into why people really go into politics - it's indoors, and a warm place to sleep. The thought occurs that all the homeless people sleeping in the public library would be better off running for office.

As far as I know, press photographers are apparently still allowed in the press gallery - the thing the MPs were worried about was mainly television coverage - More people get the news via their television than via a newspaper. So Parliament was saved from being brought into disrepute by the wicked powers of cameras, and Members of Parliament could sleep easy during policy debates once more.

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