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Campaign to force Auckland Council to respect free speech

Crowd fund campaign launched to force Auckland Council to respect rights to free speech

A crowd funding campaign has been launched to raise money to bring judicial review proceedings against Phil Goff and Auckland Council for their banning of speakers Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern at Council-owned venues.

A 'Free Speech Coalition' will collect funds for the legal action, and return them if the fundraising target is not met. The Coalition has been advised that the cost of engaging lawyers and proceeding with urgent legal action will be approximately $50,000.

New Zealanders who value free speech can pledge money to this cause at www.freespeechcoalition.nz.

With a few emails over the weekend, a dozen donors have already pledged nearly $5,000. This positive response has given the Coalition the confidence to open the campaign to the general public.

A supporter of the Coalition, Melissa Derby, says, "Standing up for free speech means standing up for speech you and I may personally find repugnant. We do not endorse these particular speakers' views, but the general principle that people should be able to share, and be exposed to, controversial ideas."

"Banning a pair of populists that together have over a million Youtube subscribers sets an extraordinary low bar for state censorship.""

"Council facilities, paid for by the general public, should operate as common carriers for people of all political views. They should not discriminate based on the personal views of politicians, nor should their use be subject to the whims of those who would threaten violent protest."

Chris Trotter, who is also supporting the effort, says, "We accept the case for blocking genuine hate speech, such as incitements of violence or other illegal activity. But curbing free debate under threat of disruption is neither desirable nor acceptable in a free and democratic society. Truth is not afraid of trigger-words. Truth does not need a safe space. Truth is not a snowflake. Truth can take the heat and most certainly should not be forced to vacate the kitchen in the face of a couple of Alt-Right populists and a politically-correct Mayor."

Supporters of the group include:
Dr. Michael Bassett - Former Labour Party Minister
Dr. Don Brash - Former leader of the National and Act Parties, and former Governor of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
Ashley Church - Business Leader
Dr. David Cumin - Senior Lecturer University of Auckland
Melissa Derby - University of Canterbury Academic
Stephen Franks - Lawyer
Paul Moon - Historian and a Professor, Auckland University of Technology
Lindsay Perigo - Broadcaster
Rachel Poulain - Writer
Chris Trotter - Political Commentator
Jordan Williams - Lawyer

Mayor Phil Goff has opened Auckland Council up to judicial review, as it is likely breaching the Bill of Rights Act (freedom of speech), and potentially the Human Rights Act (freedom from discrimination on the basis of political opinion). The Council is subject to both Acts.

This is an all or nothing campaign. If the $50,000 is not raised by 5pm Friday, then all funds will be returned to donors, and the Coalition will not proceed with further action.

The Coalition's intention is, firstly, to force Auckland Council to reopen the Bruce Mason Centre to these speakers by August 3, the date that had been scheduled for the event. Secondly, and most importantly, we aim to set a precedent demonstrating that government bodies will face firm legal consequences if they breach the rights to freedom of speech and freedom from political discrimination that are laid out in law.

Donations can be made at www.freespeechcoalition.nz

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