Submit for free speech

05/08/2021

Vague law is bad law and the proposed legislation on hate speech is very, very vague.

Any speech that intends to excite hostility or ill-will against, or bring into contempt or ridicule, any group of persons in New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins, sex, marital status is already illegal and covered under the Human Rights Act.

The Free Speech Union briefing paper on proposed legislation spells out the dangers of extending that :

It is impossible to provide statutory protection for every group in society. The Government hasn’t specified which groups they think should be added to protected lists, saying they want the public to decide on that, yet they have referred to the classes of people protected against workplace discrimination – including sex, marital status, religious belief, ethical belief, race, and political opinion.

Blasphemy has only recently been removed as an offence under the law but the government wants to protect religious belief.

Neither Minister Faafoi nor Prime Minister Ardern would clearly exclude political opinion from protection. If included as a protected group, people could be imprisoned for insulting others’ political beliefs, and so the essence of our democracy and free and frank debate would be undermined.

Are we to be no freer than North Korea to debate politics, disagree with political views and poke the borax at politicians?

While bigoted and resentful opinions are perhaps widely considered indefensible or condemnable, that does not mean they should be made
illegal. Belonging to a particular group within society should not privilege individuals or remove the rights of others to hold opinions, whatever they may be, concerning that group. What does it say of certain groups, when they are given particular legal protection? What does it say of others when they are not? Who gets to decide/ re-decide/re-decide again, as
our country continues to change? Increasing the number of groups specifically protected under hate speech law is a fool’s errand, which will never cover enough groups but always cover too many groups, depending on who you ask.

It is entirely unclear how these laws would be applied in competing cases. For example, would a fundamentalist religious aherent’s expressed views on homosexuality, and the Rainbow Community’s response to that religion be equally “hateful”? Do those sentenced then have to share a cell for up to three years?

The “hate speech” law in the United Kingdom, on which the proposed New Zealand legislation is based, has a special section which explicitly states that “…discussion, criticism, or expressions of antipathy, dislike, ridicule, insult or abuse of particular religions or the beliefs or practices of their adherents, or of any other belief system or the beliefs or practices of its adherents…” is exempt from the law. Troublingly, there is no such provision considered by our lawmakers at present.

The proposed changes seek to move the current law from
the Human Rights Act into the Crimes Act. This may sound like a technicality, but it means that Police and courts will be charged with defining “hate speech” and deciding where the line is.

It will see the courts recognise Parliament’s intention for this law to have a more active role in our country, despite the ambiguities related to how it should be applied.

“Hate speech” legislation has always existed outside of the Crimes Act because of the difficulties in defining hate. Both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice have been unable to clearly state where the line is. This is an irresponsible way to legislate, and once again reveals the fraught nature of these proposals. For a law to be legitimate, the people it regulates must be able to clearly see what it allows and what it prohibits.

In the past, actions have been illegal. Thought has been considered relevant only to the extent that there is demonstrable, objective evidence to speak to an individual’s intent. However, now sharing your thoughts with others (if they could be interpreted as ‘maintaining or normalising hatred’) could be illegal, absent any action. What you think may become illegal. . . 

The dangerous path down which the proposed legislation would lead police can be seen here:

STREET PREACHING NZ posted a video to the social media platform in July which shows them being approached by a police officer on Karangahape Road.

In the video, the officer tells them “there is a difference between preaching and hate speech and you are very close to crossing the line”.

But the group argued they were only preaching and in fact, the people who had called the police on them had threatened their group.

“These people actually came up and assaulted us,” one member said.

“They have threatened to kill us, they have threatened to beat up these guys and say that we are preaching hate.”

But the police officer responds: “What you guys are saying is very subjective and saying it to people up here could be taken… in a way likely to incite violence, okay?” . . 

Okay?

Without knowing exactly what the people in the group had said we can’t know whether or not it was okay, but the report doesn’t show the officer making any attempt to find out.

If this happens under existing law, it would be much worse under the proposed legislation.

More than 10,000 people have already submitted against the proposed ‘hate speech’ changes:

The Kiwi public has responded loud and clear to the Government’s questions raised in the consultation document on proposed hate speech changes: they don’t want the Government policing their speech, says Jonathan Ayling, Campaign Manager for the Free Speech Union.

More than 10,000 kiwis have submitted to the Ministry of Justice, claiming the ambiguous, unworkable changes amount to an overreach by the Government into our civil liberties. Engagement like this at the consultation phase shows how strongly New Zealander’s feel, and the threat they see to their freedoms in these changes. That us why these changes shouldn’t go forward.

“The website created to facilitate submissions to the Ministry of Justice on this issue, www.FreeSpeechSubmission.com, went live on 17, July, and in a little-over-two-weeks, we have had an overwhelming response from the public endorsingthe submission of the Free Speech Union, and submitting their own views.

“In particular we are encouraged by the huge quantity of feedback from minority communities pointing out that anti-speech laws are far more likely to damage rather than protect social cohesion.”

“Ministers’ inability to to explain what would be criminalised under these proposals reveals the danger they pose to free speech. Vague intention is an irresponsible way to legislate. The Government should listen to the public, and drop these proposed reforms.”

The signatories to this open letter show this is not a left vs right political issue.

It is a matter or right vs wrong ; freedom vs unwarranted restriction, democracy vs dictatorship.

If you haven’t already submitted the link above can help you.

 

 


Good law is clear law

29/06/2021

When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.

Fiddling with language in this way might be alright in literature, it isn’t in law making which requires clarity, yet confusion and lack of clarity are what we’ve got with the government’s explanations on its proposed law on hate speech.

Richard Harman writes in Politik the Prime Minister is confused, or confusing:

The Prime Minister yesterday added more confusion to what was contained within the Government’s discussion document on hate speech.

It quite clearly proposes that inciting hatred or hostility against a group on the basis of its political opinion would be grounds for prosecution.  A successful conviction could result in up to three years jail or a $50,000 fine.

However, Jacinda Ardern claimed at her post Cabinet press conference yesterday that the Government had removed political opinion as grounds for prosecution. . . 

But the confusion comes right at the top of the document,  on page four, where there is a summary of the Government’s proposals which it says it has agreed to “in principle”.

“Under this proposal, more groups would be protected by the law if hatred was incited against them due to a characteristic that they have. This may include some or all of the other grounds in the Human Rights Act. These grounds are listed in section 21 of the Act, which is included in Appendix One.”

That section has a long list of grounds that could be invoked, but critically it says in Section 21 (j), “political opinion, which includes the lack of a particular political opinion or any political opinion.”

And herein lies the confusion; the Prime Minister was clearly talking about page 17 while seeming to not know about what was in the summary on page four. . .

Tova O’Brien points out the Prime Minister and Justice Minister don’t understand what they’re proposing:

Jacinda Ardern is wrong about her own hate speech law. Completely and utterly wrong.

Not only is the Prime Minister wrong about the basic facts of the proposal, she was wrong to shut down debate on hate speech on The AM Show this morning with her glib, inaccurate dismissals. 

The Prime Minister and Ministers develop policy and set policy directions for law. If they don’t understand the policy direction and intent of the law, how can they expect the judiciary to interpret and apply the law? 

On Newshub Nation we questioned the Justice Minister about the proposed changes and tested his policy direction and intent with examples. He conceded that, for example, if millennials expressed hatred towards boomers they could potentially be found liable for hate speech. 

Ardern is now contesting that, saying the law will only apply if it ‘incites violence’. That is wrong, the proposed threshold is as low as ‘insulting’ someone. 

The Prime Minister was dismissive about the interview and said we were trivialising the need for the law change – the terror attacks on March 15. 

It is insulting and irresponsible to pit journalists – or anyone who questions or debates the legislation – as somehow being in opposition to the needs of the victims of March 15th. 

If Jacinda Ardern wants to be the only voice who can have a say on the proposed hate speech changes – let’s fact check some of what she said on The AM Show this morning and you can decide whether she should have the only and ultimate say.  . . 

If the Prime Minister doesn’t understand the law how are the rest of us supposed to?

The more that our elected lawmakers talk about the proposed ‘hate speech’ laws, the more concerned New Zealanders should become, according to the Free Speech Union.

“Over the weekend the Minister of Justice, Kris Faafoi, couldn’t clearly say that millennials wouldn’t be up for possibly three years in jail if they wrote something that spoke ill of boomers as blame for not being able to afford a house,” said Dr David Cumin, a Spokesman for the Free Speech Union.

“This morning the Prime Minister told the AM Show the proposed law was to ‘clarify’ the existing legislation, was to stop incitement to violence against groups, and political opinion would not be included as a protected category.”

“The PM’s comments do not match the proposals issued by her Government. If the proposed law change is just about stopping incitement to violence, why is the wording not so clear?”

“And why would our PM allow incitement to violence against people with a certain political opinion? Surely, when the threshold of inciting violence is breached, whoever is the target should be protected. Inciting violence towards anyone is already criminal, and rightly so.”

“Something doesn’t add up. Either the politicians don’t understand what they are doing, or they are misleading Kiwis.”

The Free Speech Union is calling on New Zealanders to join its campaign against the proposed ‘hate speech’ laws at www.fsu.nz/support 

Why, when the law against blasphemy has been repealed, would the government want to introduce a new and confusing law criminalising people who criticise religion.

As the Observer editorial says:

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and a cornerstone of democracy, which cannot flourish unless citizens can articulate their opinions and ideas without fear of retaliation, censorship or sanction. . . .

Good law is clear law. The proposed hate speech legislation is neither good nor clear; in threatening free speech it threatens to undermine democracy and neither the PM nor Justice Minister even understand what they’re proposing.


Rural round-up

24/12/2020

Regional economies: agriculture strong, tourism struggling:

Regions with large agricultural bases have surging regional economies while those which relied heavily on tourism were struggling.

The latest quarterly figures from Westpac McDermott Miller showed that Gisborne/Hawkes Bay have recorded a huge bounce in confidence, followed by Nelson-Marlborough-West Coast and Taranaki/Manawatū-Whanganui.

It showed the “optimists now outweighed the pessimists” in most regions, except in Northland, Otago and Southland – although the news was not entirely grim for the southern regions which had been hard-hit by the Covid-19 linked downturn.

Senior agri economist Nathan Penny said the bounce in confidence for most regions was a reflection of the general rebound in the economy, helped by news of positive vaccine developments overseas. . . 

Milk price forecast boosted by banks – Sally Rae:

Rabobank and ASB have both increased their farm-gate milk price forecasts to $7 for the 2020-21 season, following an improving dairy outlook.

Prices edged up again at last week’s GlobalDairyTrade auction — the last for the year — with an overall price increase of 1.3%.

Gains were strongest for the fat products; butter prices were up 6% and anhydrous milk fat up 1.9% while whole and skim milk powder lifted 0.5% and 1.2% respectively.

ASB economist Nat Keall said the result reflected the fact global demand was still holding up well, providing support for dairy prices. . . 

Westpac Agri Futures established to help young people into rural careers:

The importance of our primary industries has been recognised with a new sector to be included in The 2021 Ford Ranger New Zealand Rural Games.

The Rural Games will now include Westpac Agri Futures in association with Property Brokers and this is to be held on Friday 12th March in Palmerston North.

Westpac New Zealand General Manager Institutional & Business Banking, Simon Power said Agri Futures is all about encouraging the next generation into agriculture sector careers.

“The demand for staff across rural New Zealand has only grown since COVID-19, and Westpac understands the need to support efforts to encourage more Kiwis to enter the rural workforce.” . . 

Federated Farmers hails pragmatic migrant worker visa decisions:

Farmers and growers up and down the land will be pleased with the pragmatic decision by government to extend visas for migrant workers already on our shores.

“The six-month extension for employer-assisted work visa holders and the postponed stand down period for low-paid Essential Skills via holders will come as a relief for the primary sector heading into the Christmas and New Year period,” Federated Farmers employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“We thank Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi for listening to our case for this, and recognising a common sense approach. . . 

NZ Rural Land Company has quiet NZX debut :

The New Zealand Rural Land Company (NZRLC) has had a quiet debut on the stock exchange, listing at a slight premium.

Its shares touched a high of $1.31 in early trading compared with the issue price of $1.25 in the recent share float, before settling at $1.28 with only small volumes being traded.

The company raised $75 million in the public share float, which along with debt will give it about $100m for rural land buying.

NZRLC plans to buy rural land and lease it to farmers or other producers. . . 

Tractor and Machinery Association announces 2021 scholarships:

The Tractor & Machinery Association Inc (TAMA) is offering to industry trainees who are studying towards a certificate or diploma.

There are several $500 scholarships available to industry trainees who can demonstrate their commitment and potential contribution to the industry. Applications for 2021 open on 18 January and close on 5 March with successful applicants advised in May.

TAMA general manager Ron Gall said the scholarships are part of TAMA’s wider efforts to encourage younger people to stay working in the industry and take advantage of the valuable career path it offers. . . 


Chipping away at property rights

20/11/2019

Associate Housing Minister Kris Faafoi has announced changes aimed at protecting tenants:

  • limiting rent increases to once every 12 months and banning the solicitation of rental bids by landlords
  • improving tenants’ security by removing a landlord’s right to use no-cause terminations to end a periodic tenancy agreement
  • making rental properties safer and more liveable by letting tenants add minor fittings such as brackets to secure furniture against earthquake risk, to baby-proof the property, install visual fire alarms and doorbells, and hang pictures
  • improving compliance with the law by increasing financial penalties and introducing new tools to take direct action against parties who are not meeting their obligations. . .

What looks like gains for tenants add costs and difficulties for landlords.

Every change Labour has made so far in this area has restricted supply and pushed up rents,” said National Party leader Simon Bridges. “These changes will be no different, hurting those they say they want to help.”

Baby and earthquake proofing measures could be justified on the grounds of safety but anything else which could leave holes in or marks on walls like putting up pictures ought to be left to negotiations between tenants and landlords.

That and no longer permitting no-cause terminations are chipping away at the home owners’ property rights and, as Eric Crampton points out, do nothing to fix the underlying problem of poor rentals which is a housing shortage.

If you really care about protecting tenants, you need to have massive increases in housing supply. You need to have landlords competing for tenants. You need to have the run-down, damp, grotty dungers left vacant because people have other places that they can afford to live instead. When you’re in a massive housing shortage and the alternative to a crappy house is a garage or a car, crappy houses get rented out. If we instead had a surplus of housing, those places would be left vacant and their owners would have to decide whether to refurbish or tear down. . .

Tenancy regulation will not build more houses. It can only address some of the current symptoms of a fundamentally broken housing market.

Worse, it is the kind of move that makes the most sense if the Government is pessimistic about its chances of fixing the real underlying problem – making it easier to get new housing built. . . 

Not only will regulation not build more houses, it will add to the costs and compliance which make leasing homes even more unattractive to landlords.

These ones do further damage by putting tenants right to occupy above those of the property rights of the house owners.

 


Labour’s list

23/06/2014

Labour has announced its party list for the 2014 election.

Five sitting MPs Ruth Dyson, Kris Faafoi, Clare Curran, Trevor Mallard and Rino Tirikatene have opted off the list as has Napier candidate Stuart Nash. . .

Did those not on the list step aside voluntarily or did they jump when they learned their plaes?

Hamish Rutherford gives Curran’s  statement:

Dunedin South MP Clare Curran makes a short statement over the phone about withdrawing from the Labour list:
“I made a decision to withdraw from the list. I’m focused on winning Dunedin South for Labour and a hundred per cent committed to campaigning for the party vote. Not just in Dunedin but across the region, Otago-Southland region. And that’s all I’m saying, okay?”

This might be nearer the truth:

Rutherford  also lists the winners and losers:

Winners on the Labour list:
David Clark up from 49 in 2011 to 26 this year
Iain Lees-Galloway from 37 to 24
Loiusa Wall, not placed in 2011 is ranked 12
Chris Hipkins rises from 30 to 9 this year
David Shearer was 31 last time, ranked 13 for 2014
Megan Woods rises from 47 to 20.

Losers:
Carol Beaumont down from 22 in 2011 to 27 this year
Maryan Street, 7th in 2011 is ranked 15 this year
Phil Goff, leader in 2011 and number 1 in 2011, is ranked 16

Damien O’Connor who rejected a list place three years ago is back – at 22.

Is that a sign he’s back in the fold or that he’s worried about losing his seat to National candidate Maureen Pugh.

Have the people ranking the candidates followed the party’s rules that 45% of caucus should be female?

That can only be determined when the votes are counted.

They have however fallen one short of the 65 list candidates the rules stipulate they should have.

That seems strange when at least two electorate candidates lots – 16 men and 5 women by my count – who are standing in electorates aren’t on the list at all.

Mallard says he chose not to seek a list place:

You’d think he’d understand how MMP works by now.

Everyone who wins a seat will push those who are depending on a list seat further down so unless Mallard loses his seat his not being on the list makes no difference to anyone else on it.

Chris Bishop, National’s candidate will be doing all he can to help him.

On current polling there will be some MPs facing the knowledge their chances of staying in parliament aren’t high and hoping the party does lose some electorates.

The list is:

1 David Cunliffe   2 David Parker   3 Grant Robertson   4 Annette King    5 Jacinda Ardern   6 Nanaia Mahuta   7 Phil Twyford   8 Clayton Cosgrove   9 Chris Hipkins   10 Sue Moroney   11 Andrew Little   12 Louisa Wall   13 David Shearer   14 Su’a William Sio   15 Maryan Street   16 Phil Goff   17 Moana Mackey   18 Kelvin Davis   19 Meka Whaitiri   20 Megan Woods   21 Raymond Huo   22 Damien O’Connor   23 Priyanca Radhakrishnan   24 Iain Lees-Galloway   25 Rachel Jones   26 David Clark   27 Carol Beaumont   28 Poto Williams   29 Carmel Sepuloni   30 Tamati Coffey   31 Jenny Salesa   32 Liz Craig   33 Deborah Russell   34 Willow-Jean Prime   35 Jerome Mika   36 Tony Milne   37 Virginia Andersen   38 Claire Szabo   39 Michael Wood   40 Arena Williams   41 Hamish McDouall   42 Anjum Rahman   43 Sunny Kaushal   44 Christine Greer   45 Penny Gaylor   46 Janette Walker   47 Richard Hills   48 Shanan Halbert   49 Anahila Suisuiki   50 Clare Wilson   51 James Dann   52 Kelly Ellis   53 Corie Haddock   54 Jamie Strange   55 Katie Paul   56 Steven Gibson   57 Chao-Fu Wu   58 Paul Grimshaw   59 Tracey Dorreen   60 Tofik Mamedov   61 Hikiera Toroa   62 Hugh Tyler   63 Susan Elliot   64 Simon Buckingham


D for democracy

10/12/2010

Part of the blame for the poor showing by Kris Faafoi in the Mana by-election can be laid on Labour’s poor selection processes. The union and head office candidate selected wasn’t the one preferred by most members in the electorate.

The party is now facing selection problems in Manuwera:

A by-election in the Labour held Manurewa seat is looking increasingly likely as Labour’s ruling council calls the bluff of sitting MP George Hawkins.

Hawkins has been threatening to resign from Parliament for months unless his preferred candidate, Ian Dunwoodie, is chosen. . .

The seven nominees for Manurewa are list MP Ashraf Choudhary, Dunwoodie, union organiser Jerome Mika, lawyer Amelia Schaaf, human resources manager Shane Te Pou, company director Raj Thandi and former MP Louisa Wall.

Mika has the backing of Labour’s most powerful union affiliate the EPMU.

No sitting MP, or any other individual, should be able to dictate who is selected as a candidate, but allowing head office and unions to have more say than individual members is just as undemocratic.

Labour gets a D for democracy which raises a question: how can a party run a democratic government when it can’t even run a democratic selection?


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