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Freedom of speech under attack by ERA

Media Release 3 April 2000

Freedom of speech under attack by Employment Relations Bill: EMA Report # No. 1

EMA Northern’s Employment Relations Manager Peter Tritt says freedom of speech is one of four fundamental rights under attack by the Employment Relations Bill.

Under the guise of 'good faith', the Employment Relations Bill proposes a general prohibition on employers, and unions, from saying anything which misleads or deceives, or is likely to mislead or deceive the other, subject to a proviso permitting statements of fact or opinion that are 'reasonably held', Mr Tritt said.

Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA) Northern is releasing today the first of its daily reports on the implications of the Employment Relations Bill in the lead up to the 3rd May closing date for submissions on the Bill.

"The Bill of Rights Act 1990 says every New Zealander is guaranteed 'the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart… opinions of any kind in any form', a right which is properly subject to the laws of defamation," said Mr Tritt.

"The right to freedom of speech includes the right to have opinions others may consider 'unreasonable'. Once we limit that right, we are on the slippery slope to totalitarian thought control."

"Under the Bill of Rights Act, the Attorney General, who is also Minister of Labour in the present Government, is required to bring to the attention of the House of Representatives any provision in the Bill that appears to be inconsistent with any of the rights and freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights."

"As the Attorney General is also responsible for the Employment Relations Bill, the public is entitled to ask who will be available to protect our fundamental human rights?"

“The other three fundamental rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights Act which are under attack by the Employment Relations Bill are freedom from discrimination, freedom of association, and freedom of religion.”

For further comment contact:

Peter Tritt
Phone Business (09) 367 0921
Home (09) 379 8977
Mobile (025) 796 807

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