NZ Election 2020: Jami-Lee Ross' misleading conspiracy video referred to Privileges Committee

By Jane Patterson for RNZ

The Speaker has referred independent MP Jami-Lee Ross to the Privileges Committee for misusing edited parliamentary TV video for political ads.

Trevor Mallard ordered the anti-vaccination video - posted by Ross's party and that of Billy Te Kahika's NZ Public Party - to be removed from social media, but that's been met with a blunt refusal.

Parliamentary footage of an exchange between Government minister Megan Woods and National's Erica Stanford was edited for use in the political ad, posted on several sites.

Mallard considers it a potential breach of privilege and has referred it to Parliament's Privileges Committee - which has an extensive range of powers to censure MPs.

It has a few days to at least consider the complaint, before deciding how and when to handle it. That means its members will have to get together (and that could be by video) by early next week.

The committee is currently chaired by the Labour Party's David Parker, with the National Party's Gerry Brownlee as deputy, but ceases to exist once Parliament dissolves on September 6.

In a statement, Ross describes the Speaker's action as a "draconian measure... to try [to] censor a political party's videos in the middle of an election campaign".

"Billy Te Kahika and I will keep ruffling feathers and challenging the establishment," he says.

"We will not blindly accept the Speaker's direction, and we will confront head on whatever Privileges Committee process lies ahead."

The news outlet AFP has produced a critical fact check of the video, describing it as "misleading" and as making "false claims".