It is nothing of the sort. No foreign leader has ever addressed a sitting session of Parliament, and it would be highly unusual for one to do so now. The Greens' Kennedy Graham has explained why the decision not to allow Gillard to speak during session was made.
The NZ House of Representatives, sitting in session with the mace, is the symbol of national sovereignty. No one apart from New Zealand MPs has ever been allowed to address a sitting session of Parliament, not even our own Governor-General. The reason for this is that sitting sessions of Parliaments are for New Zealand law makers to exercise their democratic powers.Nobody is saying Gillard can't speak. And she will speak - just not during session. This is not an issue of freedom of expression, as some have suggested. Nobody is being censored.
The idea that we would only invite our ‘closest friends’ to address Parliament in session is problematic. Who might they be, and where might the line be drawn? Australia might be seen as no. 1. Perhaps the US would be no. 2, and the UK no. 3. Which other countries might fit in the top ten? What would be the criteria? Where could the line be drawn? Such decisions are intrinsically political, and therefore subjectively influenced by the colours of a particular Government of the day – whereas the issue must be seen as having constitutional implications independent of politics.
Our politicians are often all too eager to break with parliamentary and constitutional traditions (witness the CERRA disgrace of last year). We don't have a written constitution, which makes our parliamentary conventions all the more important. That's why there's nothing petty about the Greens' decision not to allow Gillard to speak during session. Parliamentary traditions should not be broken without good reason. I've not heard a good reason why this one needs to be.