Queensland Speaker Fiona Simpson has banned television crews from state Parliament until August for broadcasting civil union protests inside the building in June.
During debate regarding the rollback of the state’s Civil Partnership Act and the announcement of forthcoming changes to Surrogacy Act on June 21, there were incredible scenes of community anger from the public gallery.
Throughout the evening there were chants of “Shame, bigots, shame!”, while another man cried out “We’re human beings, not animals”. The public were eventually ejected from viewing the debate to prevent further disruption and the protest was covered widely by the state’s media outlets.
According to a Legislative Assembly guide for camera operators tabled in Queensland Parliament in 2007, in the event of unparliamentary behaviour or disturbance on the floor, “the camera is to focus on the Chair or a slightly wider angle shot of the Chamber which incorporates the Chair and the Clerks but which does not show the offending incident.”
Ten News Queensland and the Nine Network Queensland both confirmed its news camera crews have been banned due to the incident.
Simpson, a controversial anti-gay Sunshine Coast MP, was announced as Queensland’s first ever female Parliamentary Speaker in March.
An advocate of so-called ‘reparative therapy’ for homosexuals, the Liberal National Party MP famously told state Parliament in 2002 that homosexuals could “grow into heterosexuality over time”.
The conservative Christian, who was previously the shadow minister responsible for communities and women, also encouraged people struggling with their sexuality to contact Exodus International, a Christian ‘ex-gay’ organisation that claims to be able to cure homosexuality.
Some political commentators suggested Premier Campbell Newman’s appointment of Simpson to Speaker was an attempt to ensure she did not embarrass the new government with any more of her extreme views on the floor of Parliament, as well as removing her say on policy.