Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Free Speech banned in New Zealand

It is a sad time for the people of New Zealand, with the Labour Party (together with their mates in the Greens and NZ First) succeeding in their anti-democratic moves to ban free speech.

Labour's 'Electoral Finance Act' was only marginally changed during the last Select Committee process, with sensible suggestions from independent bodies about levels of funding/donations and appropriate time frames being rejected.

The final vote was 63 for the bill (Labour, NZ First, Greens, Anderton), and 57 against (National, Maori, Act, United Future, and Taito). Peter Dunne's United Future changed sides at the last minute, after months of supporting the bill.

John Key didn't mince his words in Parliament. He noted, "History will mark this day. This is the day that Helen Clark arrogantly inflicted upon the people of New Zealand an anti-democratic piece of legislation and the collective focus of New Zealand knew once and for all, it's time for a change."

Key said the bill was being passed solely "so Helen Clark can try to cling onto power", and said a National-led Government would repeal the law.

National's deputy leader Bill English described the law as "all about entrenching the right of Government and the political establishment to use big public money to buy elections and no one will be able to stop them."

The Maori Party's Hone Harawira reflected common public opinion, saying that "despite what Helen Clark might argue, the bill is actually being opposed by people other than those who have millions of dollars to donate to parties."

* NZ Herald: Controversial electoral law passed in heated debate
* NZ Herald: Blow by blow debate on the electoral bill

The Free Speech Coalition have agreed with the NZ Herald's description of the Electoral Finance as an "Attack on Democracy". The group are planning a major advertising campaign against the parties and MPs which supported the bill, and launched a billboard campaign this morning...

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt is also keen to test the new law next year, with a major battle planned by Southland interests against the massive budget cuts to the Southern Institute of Technology announced by the TEC.

Meanwhile, Libertarianz Party leader Bernard Darnton has offered his party as a "flag of convenience" for free speech.

Because the Libertarianz are a registered political party, they can legally authorise spending of up to $2.4 million dollars (20 times what third parties will now be allowed to spend). Brilliant idea!

* Not PC: Darnton offers Libz political party as ‘flag of convenience’ for free speech
* The Free Speech Coalition website
* Excellent coverage also at Kiwiblog and Whale Oil

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