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Free Speech Union Releases Briefing To Incoming Government, Outlining Key Areas Of Policy To Protect Free Speech

The Free Speech Union has sent 14 Cabinet Ministers a comprehensive Briefing to the Incoming Government, outlining five key areas of policy that the Government must address in order to protect and expand Kiwis’ speech rights. We look forward to working constructively with the Government across these five areas which interact with a variety of portfolios, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

“These five policy areas are:

  • Academic Freedom;
  • Mis/disinformation;
  • Online Speech;
  • Hate Speech;
  • Free speech in public places (Hecklers’ Veto);

“In the two years since our successful campaign against the original hate speech proposals, we have witnessed growing antagonism to free speech. Government is no longer the sole – or even the major – threat to free speech. The struggle for free speech now takes place in a much wider social and cultural context.

“As our Briefing outlines, while the cultural fight cannot be won by Government action alone, there are things the Government must do to protect and promote the speech rights of New Zealanders.

“At a minimum, any government should prioritise free speech considerations in any policy or legislative proposals, ensuring there are no unintended consequences for speech rights. While it might be assumed this would happen as a matter of course, in recent years, legislation has paid lip service to the importance of free speech, while treating free speech rights as simply one of many criteria to be weighed up and, often, traded away in favour of other concerns.

“We call on the Government to adopt a positive duty to protect free speech as a fundamental human right, and as the foundation of the democratic order.”

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