Acting to protect Free speech

Beth Houlbrooke
ACT Deputy Leader / Vice President

FREE SPEECH

The number of people losing their minds left, right and centre this week about David’s free speech comments has shown precisely why trying to define hate speech is completely subjective, impossible to define, and impractical to enforce. Any attempt to do so sets us down a very dangerous path towards total control of the expression of individual values, philosophy, religious beliefs, cultural practices, and ultimately, criticism of the government.
 
Jacinda Adern said, “you know it when you see it”. I believe we won’t know what we’ve lost until it’s gone. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and we need more people to be vigilant and outspoken on this fundamentally important freedom. You can help with this by joining or supporting ACT, donating to the cause, and coming along to our ReACT event on Sunday, 16 June, and spreading the word.
 
GAGGED
 
Shame on Newshub for publishing such clickbait. A dreadfully misleading and menacing headline designed to trick the reader into believing correlation equals causation.
 
This is the same news publication that stifles commentary and has refused to publish a right-of-reply for David. Fortunately, we have friends. David Farrar’s Kiwiblog published David’s response to the accusations this week. quote.

“The response to my comment proves we cannot trust government to enforce hate speech laws. Imagine if the state had even greater powers to punish speech at its disposal.”  end quote.

THE CLIMATE IS CHANGING
 
In a small country such as ours, imposing taxes and regulations to try to prevent climatic changes will not make any meaningful difference, in fact, could harm our economy and make it even more difficult for industries to undertake large scale, practical measures to protect the environment.  

A wealthy country built on free-market capitalism, with successful businesses and individuals making a voluntary contribution towards cleaning up the environment, with appropriate penalties for real polluters, will make a difference.

We only need to look at the poor state of environmental care in developing countries, to see that they cannot afford to look after their natural surroundings. These countries will happily fill the gap created to produce the commodities we all need, with very little regard to their environmental effects. quote.

“If the Government requires New Zealanders to make significantly deeper emissions cuts than our trading partners, it will harm the economy and significantly reduce living standards while pushing economic activity to countries with lower environmental standards, increasing global emissions.” end quote.

And here’s an idea:  Could the school children who are protesting against climate change please sync with the teachers going on strike? I can’t call the school-age children’s action a “strike”, because the only people they’ll inconvenience is their parents. They’re not withdrawing a service on which any of us rely, so it should more correctly be called a protest. But what do they actually want to achieve as a result?
 
Planting trees, fencing riparian margins, doing beach and waterway clean-ups, reducing our consumption of non-recyclable plastics and other non-biodegradable materials, deconstructing buildings instead of demolishing them, undertaking pest management programmes and other initiatives that help to increase biodiversity, are all practical things we can do to help look after the environment. They are things most of us gladly involve ourselves in, for the immediate results they produce.
  
RED TAPE IS STILL OUR THING
 
I joined this party originally because of a strong aversion to red tape and regulation.
 
What I have discovered in my current role is that the one thing that is universally disliked with varying degrees of passion by people from every political persuasion is over-regulation. This week, I walked with some Forest & Bird volunteers over a new track they were building through some bush-covered reserve land and heard about the ridiculous amount of red tape they were made to go through, which made a simple job take over a year to complete. By the time the short trail is delivered, onerous and time-consuming to-ing and fro-ing with the council, form filling, waiting on permissions, completing risk assessments and other health and safety requirements, have just about sucked all the enjoyment out of the project. As one of them said to me, “they don’t want to enable us, they want to regulate us!
 
This same week, I also heard from a neighbour who is starting a new home build project. They have purchased one of the last empty sections in a new subdivision, where covenants require each house to look different from the other, mainly by siting them at different angles. The only practical design for his section is to have the garage and front door facing the street, but the council is insisting they angle it towards the prevailing wind, as the last remaining choice of street angles left. This means a howling gale will blow straight into the garage and front entry. To apply for permission to vary this requirement will cost $6,000 and is not guaranteed to be successful. He is already using different cladding, roof angles and material to the neighbouring houses, but this is not enough.
 
With regret for the lack of funnies in this week’s newsletter, I sign off. We are proud of you David and proud to be part of the ACT family.

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