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National Party ad featuring Labour MP 'clearly satirical', committee rules

Parliament's privileges committee has found a National Party ad featuring a Labour MP talking about health supplements did not break the rules around satire.

By Jane Patterson of rnz.co.nz

MP Chris Bishop posted the video "Introducing new Labour MP Anna Lorck" to Twitter earlier this month.

The Speaker of the House ordered him to stop using Parliamentary TV footage and referred the ad to the Privileges Committee on the grounds it uses excerpts "that have been edited in a way that is misleading".

The committee - made up of MPs from different parties - found the ad was clearly satirical, which is allowed.

But there was disagreement about whether it was edited in a way that was misleading, which the majority believed to be the case.

"In particular, in the original speech the member told a story in which she quoted her grandfather: "…he says to me, 'Well, I take three supplements. I take deer velvet, I take bee pollen, and I take garlic'".

The committee's report stated that although the grandfather was referenced at the start of the edited video, the words "he says to me," were removed, which made it look like Lorck was talking about taking the supplements herself.

But others disagreed, and also argued the actual material at issue should be taken into account.

"Some of us also believe that the standard for "misleading" should include consideration of how material the substance of the misrepresentation is. Misrepresenting a member's view on a policy position would be materially misleading."

The committee said by majority the original video should remain banned, but if it was changed to make the grandfather reference clear, it could be republished.

'Just a bit of fun'

Bishop was claiming a "big victory", but said at the end of the day it was "just a bit of fun".

And he said while it wasn't the "biggest issue facing Parliament obviously, we think it's important that MPs and political parties can put up the proceedings of what actually happens in Parliament - which is basically all that we did."

He dismissed the argument from some MPs on the committee the video was misleading; "it said we had to add five words into the video, so we've done that ... the fact that we were told to take the video down, I think the fact the video's now back up says it all really".

Labour's chief whip, Kieran McAnulty, said the committee "determined the video of Anna was edited in such a way by National that it was misleading".

"It's important the rules around accurately representing MPs is upheld, so National have had to change the video in order for it to be re-posted."

Labour was pleased the Privileges Committee had "worked effectively to balance the right of political speech with the need for accuracy", he said.