Australian Parliament condemns Citizen Journalist MP over Protest Pictures

The Prime Minister and Parliament of Australia have condemned a Member of Parliament who sold protest images to News Corp for charity.

Member for Dawson James Bidgood, who has experience in photography captured images of a man who tried to set himself on fire outside Parliament House in Canberra.

After capturing the images, Bidgood offered the images to the Daily Telegraph newspaper in return for a $1000 AUD ($630 USD) donation to charity.

News of the sale reached Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who demanded Bidgood apologize to Parliament and the man photographed for the “deeply offensive” photographs.

In a statement to Parliament, Bidgood said “My actions were highly insensitive and inappropriate and I am tonight writing a letter of apology to the family involved. I deeply regret my actions and I apologize once again for any offense I have caused.”

Manager of Opposition business Joe Hockey demanded further action, claiming the photographs raised very alarming issues, and suggesting that the photographs may have constituted breaches of security.

Here’s the thing: I don’t get the outcry. Bidgood was nearby the protest as the incident took place. He took some photographs of a news event, and then offered to sell the photographs for charity and not personal gain (although Fairfax is claiming that the donation part came later). He acted as a citizen journalist in a public space, and he was good enough to use the photographs to raise money for charity.

Is the Australian Government suggesting that MP’s can’t take photographs? Or do they really believe that taking photographs of an event in public is the sole domain of heritage media journalists? That what was being photographed was upsetting is a given, but these photographs could have been taken by anyone present, because ultimately it is a free country, well until they censor the internet anyway. Bidgood acted as a citizen journalist and looked to give money to a good cause, and for this is does not deserve condemnation.

(img credit:Sky News)

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