The National Party believe that freedom of speech is a fundamental right, National’s Justice spokesperson Simon Bridges says.
“We completely oppose the criminalising of speech except in cases of incitement to violence which is already provided for in New Zealand Law.
“We are not ruling out supporting sensible changes to the Human Rights Act 1993 like perhaps updating the groups covered by anti-discrimination law, but we would need to see the law in writing before taking a conclusive position. In any case, Minister Faafoi’s proposed Hate Speech law changes seek to change a lot more.
“The Prime Minister has already begun mischaracterising the proposed law changes by framing them as simply adding ‘religion’ as a protected group in light of the Royal Commission. I encourage all New Zealanders to read the 6 proposals for themselves because these laws reach much further than that.
“The National Party encourages open debate and discussion as this leads to people being better informed and able to form their own opinions. Democracy relies on the ability of people to speak freely and in turn others are, of course, free to disagree.
“Protecting free speech does not mean that there isn’t speech that I find abhorrent. We are all offended by a variety of things. However, it would be complete overreach to criminalise people, throw them in jail for up to three years, because they caused offence.
“This Government, unable to deliver on much else, appears to want to regulate New Zealanders in every facet of our lives. Not content with just telling us what car we are allowed to drive, they want to restrict and regulate the words that come out of our mouths.
“This is Orwellian and the National Party will oppose such a complete encroachment on our rights.”