The wrongs of the Human Rights Commission

Act has tabled plans to make government and parliament smaller. David Seymour revealed a new private members bill at August?s party conference to reduce the number of MP?s to 100, the number of ministers to 20 and to remove the Maori Seats. Act has already given helpful advice to the government on how it can reduce its unnecessary workload by?merging and abolishing ministries.

That is a positive first step but there is plenty of clutter and activity for the sake of activity outside Parliament too. The appointment of a new Human Rights Commissioner and Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner this week is a reminder of how much more will need to be done to make the state an efficient custodian of taxpayer money.

Further evidence of the pointlessness of the myriad of highly paid and long-titled Commissioners was provided not by the appointment to a third position; rather a vacancy that has existed for four months. Dame Susan Devoy concluded her term as Race Relations Commissioner in June 2018. Has the country declined into a state of civil disorder as a result or has the void of politically correct finger-wagging simply been filled by the Greens?

All three of these positions have failed to live up to their billings. This isn?t just because the people appointed to these positions have failed to achieve what a reasonable person would expect; rather because the positions themselves are either oxymoronic or their reason for existing doesn?t survive logical scrutiny.

The Human Rights Commission exists to achieve the polar opposite of defending genuine human rights. Those rights should include free association, defence of private property rights and being a watchdog on the behalf of private citizens to ensure all are equal before the law. Instead, it acts as a Commission of Human Wrongs; advocating for the entitlement of some protected groups to the belongings of other non-protected groups. The ?right? to work, the ?right? to be free from discrimination for some identity groups at the expense of others, the ?right? to material goods.

The issue Act and the Human Rights Commission are theoretically in agreement on is the right of free speech. However, the Human Rights Commission fails dismally here also. When Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux had their hired venue withdrawn by Auckland Council, following threats of violence from Auckland Peace Action, where was the Human Rights Commission? When Mayor Phil Goff falsely claimed he was cancelling the hiring of the Bruce Mason Theatre and would not permit them to speak in any council venue because he found the speakers? views repugnant where was the Human Rights Commission?

The Human Rights Commission remained silent as former Act Leader Dr. Don Brash was blocked from speaking at Massey University for falsified security reasons. They remained silent when Nigel Farage faced calls from the Green?s Golriz Ghahraman to be prevented from speaking while attendees to his show were assaulted and threatened by protestors. Chelsea Manning faced calls from the National Party to be banned from entering the country, despite her having completed her jail sentence and posing no threat to New Zealanders but the Human Rights Commission was silent again.

Act is the only parliamentary party that has been 100% consistent on the issue of free speech. We?ve publicly defended the right of Southern, Molyneux, Manning, Farage and Dr. Brash to exercise their free speech. All these speakers have wildly varying views, some of which the Act party disagrees with. We even took a bit of flak for expressing disagreement with some of these speakers, however, the most powerful argument for free speech is the defence of speech you disagree with.

Alternatively, Labour, the Greens and National have all been inconsistent and flaky each time this issue has come up. The Greens have defended speech they support and campaigned to block speech they disagree with; the most dangerous positioning on this issue a political party can take. National lurched from enthusiastically speaking out when it’s easy, in the case of Dr. Don Brash, evasive in the case of Southern/Molyneux and downright hypocritical in the case of Manning.

The Human Right?s Commission has been as consistent as Act when it comes to free speech; unfortunately, they were consistently silent. Act has had to do the job the Human Rights Commission should do by defending free speech. Conversely, the Greens have done the job the Human Rights Commission usually does; calling for politically correct censorship with a side of hypocrisy.

The silence of the Human Rights Commission on free speech hasn?t ended the protection of speech or the attacks upon it. Instead, political parties have filled the void and the country didn?t collapse into disorderly anarchy. The Human Rights Commission has therefore demonstrated the ineffectiveness and irrelevance of nagging government quangos and should be shut down.

Stephen Berry is a spokesman for the Act party. He was number 5 on their party list in the 2017 election and most recently stood as Act?s candidate in the Northcote by-election.