Fiona Simpson Banned Cameras from Queensland Parliament's Gallery
Fiona Simpson is a member of the Liberal National Party and current Shadow Minister for Finance and Better Regulation and Shadow Minister for Integrity in Government for Queensland. She also served as Speaker of the Queensland Legislative Assembly from 2012 to 2015.
Television Cameras Banned from Queensland Parliament Gallery
In July of 2012, Ms. Simpson banned television cameras within the chamber for nine sitting days after television news crews filmed gay rights supporters during a parliamentary debate the previous month. The footage was taken in the public gallery and broadcast the following day. In a written statement, Ms. Simpson declared that this was in breach of Standing Orders and Media Access Policy. The policy states that cameras are directed to only focus on whichever MP has "the call" to speak and that any activity in the gallery is not to be filmed. Ms. Simpson defended the camera ban while also speaking about of a broader review of safety within the gallery.
On July 10th, Independent MP, Peter Wellington, gave notice for a motion of dissent for Ms. Simpson's ruling, describing the ban as censorship to reporters:
"“It certainly appears to me to be censorship, but I need to walk that fine line, otherwise the Speaker might ... say you've criticised the Speaker and throw me out of Parliament."
Then-Premier, Campbell Newman, claimed that the issue “was entirely a matter for the Speaker" and that he heard not heard of Ms. Simpson's action until after the media gallery themselves were informed.
Then-Opposition Leader, Annastacia Palaszczuk, refused to comment on the camera ban referring to standing orders which prevented MPs from commenting on the Speaker's decision. However, regarding Ms. Simpson's comments on safety in the gallery, Ms. Palaszczuk opined that "anything to enhance security is a good measure."
Resignation of Integrity Commissioner
In January 2022, Queensland's Integrity Commissioner, Dr. Nikola Stepanov, resigned. Ms. Simpson had stated that Ms. Stepanov had held the government to account on "some really serious issues":
“Integrity matters, and it matters when a government … undermines the very statutory independent roles that are there to keep them honest."
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