Friday, June 14, 2024

Peters proposes law change to protect free speech

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Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters. File photo supplied

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters’ NZ First political party has introduced a Member’s Bill to Parliament that will protect Kiwis’ right to free speech.

Peters, who worked for a Howick law firm before entering politics, says the Protection of Freedom of Expression Bill will ensure no organisation or individual, when acting within the law, is unreasonably denied use of a public venue for an organised event or gathering due solely to holding a differing opinion or belief.

It achieves this by setting out responsibilities for facilitating free speech in public venues, he says.

“A vital part of a functioning democracy is to ensure everyone can have their say within the law.

“Public venues paid for by taxpayers and local ratepayers should be available to anyone wishing to utilise those venues, and not be exposed to the ‘thinly veiled totalitarian thought police’ that have become so prevalent in New Zealand.”

Peters says the Bill will ensure all organisations are granted freedom of expression, freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom of association, when acting within the law, utilising any publicly owned facility.

“This Bill upholds New Zealanders’ right to freedom of expression and the right to say, ‘I disagree’.”

“There have been multiple instances of public authorities and venues attempting to shut down, cancel, or censor organisations and speakers solely because they hold contrary views.

“This cancerous cancel-culture is an attack on the very fabric of New Zealand society”.

The New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 states everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form, Peters says.

“NZ First will continue to defend the right of every New Zealander to exercise that freedom.

“We refuse to accept these basic rights being taken away by certain pressure groups, causes, or influenced authorities.”

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