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Who Is Thinking About Free Speech?


Who Is Thinking About Free Speech?

Friday, October 5 2001 Stephen Franks Press Releases -- Justice, Law & Order

There should be outrage at attempts to stop or punish Wellington Mayor Mark Blumsky for telling us who he thinks would make a constructive Council out of the candidates after he has gone, ACT Justice Spokesman Stephen Franks said.

"Retiring Mayor Blumsky's list crossed all recognised party lines and included several who have always opposed him. Now the Council have been told by its lawyers they must report it to the Police after other candidates claimed that it was somehow "undemocratic". Local Government Minister Sandra Lee's Local Electoral Act has a number of new provisions designed to shut down "unauthorised" election speech.

"Earlier this year she was forced to suspend section 135 of the new Act after ACT pointed out that it would prevent Radio talkback discussion and journalists reporting candidates, because the section made it illegal to publish material promoting a candidate without consent. She didn't suspend the rules that apply if a statement can be called an "advertisement".

"Where are the civil libertarians protesting over this attack on free speech?

"Where is the outrage from the media? The Herald has been challenging court suppression orders but "regulating democracy" to the extent that a Mayor can't tell us who he thinks would make good councillors seems to attract not even raised eyebrows.

"Where is our utterly useless Human Rights Commission? Too busy drumming up sexual harassment grievances to notice when fundamental rights like free speech are under attack. Where was our Attorney General in all this? The Bill of Rights promise of free speech meant so little to her that her officials were used against ACT's protests earlier this year. They were alleged to have advised that the new electoral law had no implications for free speech. When I got officials' reports under the Official Information Act the key parts had been deleted.

"Mayor Blumsky has been an excellent Mayor and he would serve New Zealand generally now if he lets a prosecution proceed in the hope that it blows the whistle on the sinister side to the changes in our electoral law brought in by the Labour/Alliance government," Stephen Franks said.

For more information visit ACT online at http://www.act.org.nz or contact the ACT Parliamentary Office at act@parliament.govt.nz.

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