Transcript: Stephen Berry’s full speech at Auckland rally

Stephen Berry Photo: Whaleoil

This government has cemented for itself a reputation for sneakiness and dupliticious application of smoke and mirror tricks as it heaps it?s socialist ideology upon unwilling New Zealanders. Normally I?d cynically view it as politics as normal, however this was a party that campaigned on open and transparent government, even going as far as to appoint a Minister for Open Government!

All of that wide-eyed idealism has gone now. It was never going to survive coalition with Winston Peters, the notorious Prince of the Dark Arts, who has made a successful career from dodging, misleading and attacking the media, parliament and the New Zealand voter.

When news this government was considering signing up to the UN Compact for Migration, we waited weeks to find out if this government would be signing our country up to it. It was a complete contrast with Labour?s battle against the TPPA. There were marchers organised throughout the country to oppose it and, whatever your thoughts on the pact, it went to Parliament to be debated and voted on.

No such scrutiny has been permitted by Parliament on the Migration Compact. By the time Parliament had risen last year, we still didn?t know if we would be signed up. The Foreign Minister didn?t even have the decency to tell us until two days after the deed had been done saying he?d been advised the agreement was non-binding. Then going on the attack, labelling the Pact?s opponents of being uniformed and intentionally misled by the alt-right.

This is a document that contains provisions for curriculum content in our schools, public campaigns to sensitise media reporting of migration-related issues. It?s objectives make mention of hate crimes that are undefined and penalties that are unspecified.

We know what the UN Compact for Migration says already. We know that granting vague powers to politicians is like giving car-keys and whiskey to teenagers. Winston has been busted fumbling a sleight of hand, lied and slandered the voting public. Politicians should be the servants of the people they represent and voters deserve some goddamn respect.

This issue isn?t really a debate about immigration. Act continues to welcome migrants who are financially independent, who will invest in New Zealand and share New Zealand?s values of free speech, free choice and equality. Unemployment is down to just 3.9% and multiple industries such as horticulture, construction, education, hospitality and farming are feeling the squeeze of labour shortages. Reducing the number of migrants coming to New Zealand will suffocate the economic potential of New Zealand businesses. Whatever your view on migration however, its is for New Zealand to make that decision; we have nothing to gain by opening our borders and our publicly funded services to the UN.

Those supporting the signing of the UN Compact have used one particular term repeatedly to dismiss our objections. That term is ?non-binding.? The agreement has no power to compell our politicians to reference it when passing legislation nor dictate a government?s policy program. Technically that is correct. The Crown Law Office is right. It genuinely is a non-binding agreement.

In the background of this debate, we?ve had the opportunity to observe how the UN works to empower non-binding agreements as the UN Human Right?s Council reviewed New Zealand?s track record on compliance with some other non-binding agreements: The Declaration of Human Rights and Indigenous Rights.

This is a body whose members include some of the world most brutal regimes with horrifc records on Human Rights scrutinising our own record. You?d think that would make Andrew Little?s presetation on New Zealand?s record somewhat easier but instead he stated we need to do better to mitigate the impact of colonisation, that Maori, Pasifika, LGBT and new migrants are disadvantaged in New Zealand. He said our justice system was broken and that women are not on an equal footing with men.

The periodic review is not yet complete, so we cannot be sure of the final conclusions the UN will reach. However we can look back to the prior review held in 2014 when National was government. The UN made 155 recommendations for improvement on that non-binding agreement and National accepted 121 of them. Our own Human Rights Commission is responsible for monitoring the governments progress. New Zealand can be relied on to fold to pressure from UN diplomats.

Freedom of speech is absolutely fundamental to maintaining a free liberal democracy and guaranteeing our individual liberties. It is undeniable that free speech is the essential tool free people possess in either fighting for equality or protecting their ability to live in piece.

The Act party has the strongest record on free speech out of any political party in parliament. We?ve voiced our support for the right of people to share their views, not matter how offensive they may be. While National only spoke up for those they support and tried to shut out speakers they dislike, Act has been ?forthright in defending free speech every time. When knee-jerk compassionate panic brought the Harmful Digital Communications Act up for vote, Act was the only party to vote entirely against the law.

The UN Migration Pact won?t usher in ammargeddon tomorrow, but that doesn?t mean it can be shuffled away by this government without proper scrutiny. It is an agreement that openly pursues restrictions on our media, electoral system and your ability to freely speak. It is an agreement that will inspire politicians in the future and probably in the next election as they formulate policy. It is the first step down a slippery slope that values freedom of expression below other policy goals.I don?t care what compassionate hypotheticals others present to justify such an action. We never take that first step; we never give up our freedom to speak.

In the 2020 election, unless an MP creates a new party in Parliament, we will probably still have no more than 5 parties in Parliament. Only one party has ever been elected to an MMP Parliament without having a sitting MP in Parliament first. That was the Act party in 1996. We know that Winston can?t be trusted in Government. We know that National thinks a principle is someone who runs a school, expands more Labour policies than it reverses and has voted in favour of several Government bills to worsen welfare dependency this year.

While National flip-flops on polling and Labour waits for working groups to tell them what they think, Act does have a track-record of saying what we mean and advocating ideas that will make New Zealand free and prosperous. Act recognises that free speech is the foundation of our society. Act will always be vocal in defending free speech when our politicians and public institutions disrespect it. The UN Compact on Migration contains explicit threats to freedom of speech and Act will remove our country from it.

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