Free Speech Coalition files proceedings against Goff and Auckland Council

The Free Speech Coalition has now filed proceedings against Mayor Goff and Auckland Council under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

This came after the Coalition presented the Mayor with?an open letter?suggesting he avoid the cost of litigation by reopening discussions with the promoters of the event in question.

The open letter outlined:

  • The Council declined to discuss security concerns with organisers or Police prior to Phil Goff’s tweet.
  • There was no time pressure justification for the Council’s sudden, uninformed decision.
  • So far no privately-owned venues?in Auckland have been found to be available or suitable?in such a short time frame.
  • In Australia, all but one of the venues hosting the speakers are owned by local councils or state government. There is no reason for Auckland to be an outlier.
  • The Council has left the Coalition with?no other option but to seek urgent judicial relief.

The Coalition gets the impression the Mayor is eager for the Police to say they can’t uphold their duty to keep the peace and protect free speech?? a sad contrast with Australia that we never expected.

Coalition member Melissa Derby says, ?The Council?s arbitrary and uninformed decision making process suggests bias, prejudgment, and indifference to the fundamental freedoms outlined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It?s regrettable to see the Mayor digging his heels in when we have given him every opportunity to reconsider and avoid litigation costs.?

David Cumin, a member of the Coalition and also a plaintiff in the proceedings, says, ?Despite his earlier tweets, Mr Goff now claims it wasn?t about banning the speakers because of their political views, but about safety. What he risks is delivering a ?heckler?s veto?, where potential protesters get to decide who Aucklanders can hear from or associate with.?

?This action is to ensure that politicians and officials aren’t allowed to discriminate against views they dislike when it comes to ratepayer-funded venues, regardless of how broadly ‘unacceptable’ the views might be.?

The plaintiffs in this action are:

  • Axiomatic Media ? the promoters of the Southern/Molyneux event.
  • Malcolm Bruce Moncrief-Spittle ? a bookseller living in Dunedin.
  • David Cumin ? an Auckland ratepayer and member of the Free Speech Coalition.

The defendants are:

  • Regional Facilities Auckland (Auckland Live)
  • Auckland Council
  • Mayor Phil Goff

The statement of claim and application for urgency and interim orders are available?here?and?here.