Motion: Chamber Broadcasting


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (11:05): It gives me great pleasure to support this motion and indicate that the opposition supports this motion. I am very pleased that the government has moved a long way in the six years since I brought legislation to this house requiring that the Joint Parliamentary Service Committee make available video recordings, directly streamed through the internet, to the people of South Australia so that they can see what goes on in this parliament, in this building, and so that they can see the laws that affect their lives being made. It is, in fact, a principle that the people of Yemen had access to the audio streaming of their parliament—let's call it a parliament—before the South Australian people did. When that was turned on about five or six years ago, we were very pleased that we were able to catch up to Yemen in regard to this important democratic principle.

Since this parliament first sat next door in 1857, the people of South Australia have had a right to come in and access the proceedings of the parliament in the public gallery because it is so important that democracy be transparent, open and accountable. It is a principle that South Australia has been a leader on, yet South Australia is basically the last place in the western world that has video streaming of the parliament. We are the last parliament in Australia. All the states and territories and the national parliament got there first.

This was a matter that was being debated in the 1980s and 1990s elsewhere, and finally, here we are in 2017. I note the member for Playford was Speaker when the government first talked about doing this nearly a decade ago, but took no action on it, made no movement on it. When I got here in 2010, I thought it was slightly unusual that my constituents were able to come in here if they had nothing else happening, if they were interested in an issue, whether it was euthanasia, whether it was the way the budget was being spent, or whether it was to see the government being held to account during question time.

I thought it was unusual that my constituents could come into the chamber and see that debate happening, see what their members of parliament were doing, but only if they had nothing else happening, only if they were able and mobile. That is helpful for my constituents, who mostly live within striking distance of Parliament House, but for any of the regional members' constituents it was inconvenient for them to get in unless they gave up days to come in to view the parliament. Their only opportunity at that stage was to wait until 4 o'clock the following day and read the Hansard.

Then, in 2011 or 2012, we had the audio streaming catching up to democratic luminaries like Yemen, and now we are catching up to Trinidad and Tobago, to New Zealand, to the United States and to the various parliamentary committees in Westminster, which are sticklers for tradition. It has taken them a while to get there. This has been happening all around the world. On the radio this morning I heard the Speaker talking about it in dulcet tones, backed up by the paragons of the fourth estate in Nick Harmsen and Mike Smithson, lauding its virtues, and they were right.

I am very pleased that we have reached this point. I commend the Speaker for helping to ensure that the government would make provision in the budget this year to enable this to happen, but it is something that should have happened a long time ago. We are pleased that the government has finally got on board. It is something this side of the house has, in fact, been clearly supportive of for a very long time indeed.