Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | Video | Questions Of the Day | Search


Sedition laws belong in the dustbin of history

5 April 2007

Sedition laws belong in the dustbin of history

Green Party Human Rights Spokesperson MP Keith Locke today supported the call by Law Commission president Sir Geoffrey Palmer to scrap New Zealand laws on sedition.

"Sedition laws can no longer be justified in a free society. They are a throwback to the dark old days when sedition was used by governments to suppress political dissent. Three former leaders of the Labour Party - Harry Holland, Peter Fraser, and Walter Nash were all charged with sedition. So were Maori leaders such as Te Whiti and Rua Kenana," Mr Locke says.

"Now more than ever, we need to protect the right to political dissent. Since 9/11, terrorism has become a rationale for government action that infringes the civil liberties of ordinary citizens. The rights of free political speech are a cornerstone of democratic society.

"As the Law Commission report says, the legal profile of the sedition offence is 'broad, variable and uncertain.' It 'invades the democratic value of free speech for no adequate reason' and falls foul of the Bill of Rights. Moreover, the report concludes, other offences now more appropriately address what was formerly seen as falling within the ambit of sedition.

"It has been disturbing that the New Zealand Police have invoked the sedition laws as a catchall. The Tim Selwyn case for instance, is a good illustration of Sir Geoffrey's point that other laws are available - such as intentional damage, or directly inciting criminal activity.

"Absurdly, the sedition laws were used this year to prosecute a student bar owner in Dunedin, for publicising an orientation week stunt competition with a petrol-soaked couch as a prize.

"The response to the Law Commission report should be swift and certain. The Government needs to have the courage to scrap the sedition laws as soon as possible. A good starting point would be the draft bill included as appendix two of the Law Commission report.

"The sedition laws belong in the dustbin of history. Scrapping them would be a useful reminder that we still need to defend the right to political dissent," Mr Locke says.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Elusive Charms Of Christopher Luxon

Well, the first 36 hours of viewing the Christopher Luxon selfie were always going to be the best, before the repetitions set in. We get it, already. He’s an extroverted/big ego/high achieving/God fearing/country music lovin’/family man who is not at all averse to mansplaining to little ladies like RNZ’s Kathryn Ryan what “technical” words like “productivity” actually mean. But wait, there’s more. National is back! Mind you, that’s not the Bad National of recent experience, but the Good National of days gone by... More>>


Luxon: A New National For New Zealand
National Party Leader Christopher Luxon has today announced a new National for New Zealand – a fresh, energised alternative government ready to deliver for Kiwis in 2023... More>>

Cancer Society: Hopes Final Pharmac Report Is Stronger

Today the delayed Interim Report was released by the Pharmac Review Panel. The performance of Pharmac and access to cancer drugs is a major concern for the Cancer Society... More>>

Defence: New Zealand Response To Assist Peace And Stability In Solomon Islands
The New Zealand government has announced that it will deploy Defence Force and Police personnel to Honiara to help restore peace and stability. “New Zealand is committed to its responsibilities and playing its part in upholding regional security,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.... More>>

CPAG: Child Poverty Monitor 2021 Highlights Persistent Inequities In Rates Of Child Poverty
Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) welcomes the release of the Child Poverty Monitor today, which shows that prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, poverty reduction targets were largely on track for Pākehā children, however significant inequities remained for tamariki Māori, Pacific and disabled children... More>>

National Party: Bridges Appointed Finance & Infrastructure Spokesperson

Hon Simon Bridges is the National Party’s new Finance and Infrastructure spokesperson, National Leader Christopher Luxon announced today. “Simon has prodigious skills, incredible talent and the intellectual heft needed to excel as National’s Finance spokesperson,” Mr Luxon says.... More>>

Waitangi National Trust: Waitangi Week
The Waitangi National Trust has decided there will be no in-person events at Waitangi Treaty Grounds during Waitangi Week 2022. Under the COVID-19 Protection Framework it would be practically impossible to safely proceed with the usual events of Waitangi commemorations... More>>




InfoPages News Channels