Photographers and the bureau chief of wire service Australian Associated Press will be banned from entering Parliament House for a week at the end of March for taking photographs of protesters in the House of Representatives.
Protesters interrupted question time at the end of November, with several gluing themselves to the leather seats and barriers, while others were dragged out into the public area. Speaker Tony Smith said earlier this month that the Australian Federal Police had referred some of the protesters to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for charges to be laid, and since the protests, security has been beefed up in the public galleries of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The protesters are not the only ones being punished, however. The serjeant-at-arms has suspended the press passes of all AAP photographers and the AAP bureau chief over the incident. An AAP photographer took photos of the protests in the public gallery and passed them onto the wire service’s photo gallery. Under rules for media in Parliament, disturbances in the galleries, or on the chamber floor, must not be photographed.
All AAP photographers will be banned from Parliament for one sitting week at the end of March, along with the bureau chief Richard Lawson.
The serjeant-at-arms warned other journalists in the gallery that publishing images from protests in the chambers of Parliament risks encouraging others seeking publicity in the same way. — Josh Taylor