Whaleoil transcript: Sean Plunket, David Seymour & Judith Collins on free speech

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This is a partial transcript.

Sean:

We are joined now, in the studio in Auckland is David Seymour – welcome to you David.

David:

Gidday Sean, how’re you going?

Sean:

Very well thank you, and joining us by phone is National MP Judith Collins. Judith, thank you for joining us as well.

Judith:

You are most welcome Sean, and hello David.

David:

Gidday Judith.

Sean:

All right. There are the protagonists and I want to start by playing the quote that seems to have got everyone so worked up. Here it is:

Recording of David Seymour speaking: “I just think that Golriz Ghahraman is completely wrong, I don’t know if she understands what she’s saying, but she is a real menace to freedom in this country, whether or not she understands that she is, and I think that it’s important that all right-thinking New Zealanders say “the true danger ah… to any society is rulers who put in place rules and regulations saying you’re not allowed to express yourself” – that’s how tyranny begins.

And I’d just invite people to have a look at speeches that Xi Jing Ping gives and speeches that Golriz Ghahraman gives, and it’s actually very difficult to tell the difference. I actually looked at a couple of paragraphs – one paragraph from each – I tried to guess which was which – and ah… Xi Jing Ping actually looked like a more liberal ah guy on this issue than Golriz Ghahraman.”

All right. There’s what David Seymour said on this programme last Thursday, what’s wrong with that Judith?

Judith:

Well actually, I thought that for David to speak about another MP, his parliamentary colleague, as though she is somebody who doesn’t know what she is saying, she’s an experienced lawyer – of course she knows what she is saying. That is um not acceptable.

But also, he ah referred to her as being a menace to society – I don’t think she is a menace to society. I think her views are not ones that I agree with, and I would agree with him on that. And I think that she is very illiberal when it comes to people’s ah freedom of speech but that bit does not mean to say that he needs to put it in such a personal way that he did, against her personally. And my view is…

Sean:

So, you…

Judith:

…that parliament is a very tough place, but actually for some people it’s a lot tougher and she is someone who gives a lot of stuff back to people but she also, I think at the moment, is getting a lot more than what she deserves. And I just think it’s time we calmed down in parliament, and outside of parliament, and remembered that she is just a human being.

Sean:

So, you’re… basically your objection is that you think Golriz Ghahraman, because of some special circumstance, you shouldn’t say nasty things about her right now?

Judith:

No, I think it actually goes like this. She is a human being and part of free speech and ah you know, I’m a very big proponent of free speech, is that people can say what they like, and that they can within the law, because there are defamation laws as you know, and there’s also the Human Rights Act, and there’s also the Crimes Act around inciting violence and hatred and things like that. So… but having said that, I have no problem with David doing what he does, except that if he does then he can expect me to make a comment about it. So, he’s not against… he’s not outside the law, but if he makes a comment like that on Twitter, he can expect that I might say “actually, I think you want to calm down… (indistinct)”

Sean:

He didn’t make that comment on Twitter, he made it on the radio.

Judith:

Well whatever, it was put on Twitter so I certainly made my views known. So, actually, just like he wants to express his free speech, I am expressing mine, which is that we need to be a little bit kinder towards each other even when the other person has views entirely different from ourselves, and we don’t need to always make it so personal. That’s my feeling.

Sean:

Do you think Golriz Ghahraman is always kind?

Judith:

No, she’s not. And I’ve spoken to her about that too.

I do know that for someone who’s under attack it’s very easy to fight back and to hit out, and my advice to anyone who’s been subject to that is “try not to get down to that same level.”

And I think, you know I also comment on Julie Bishop’s behaviour on the Nine News channel on election night in Australia on Saturday. You know, I just like… at my stage in life, Sean, if I want to make a comment I bloody well will, and one of the things they are going to say is “let’s not be so quick to put the boot in to someone who’s under attack.”

And Golriz is often under attack and let’s just remember she’s just a kid, actually. In my view, she’s in her thirties, she’s a lawyer she’s only a young person and I just think we shouldn’t be too cruel to people.

David:

Ooooh… (laughs)

Sean:

Okay. And you’re going to get accused of being patronizing but I’m going to let… you’ve had a good run… well, hang on Judith… let’s…

Judith:

David knows… David knows I’ve come out in defence of him too. He knows this.

Sean:

Well okay. Let’s let David Seymour respond to that.

David:

Well, I just couldn’t believe it that Judith went from saying that we should be nice and not attack people on personal grounds to a searing, ageist attack on and “I feel the need to stand up for Golriz Ghahraman, who like me, is also in her thirties…”

Judith:

(Indistinct)

Sean:

Hang on Judith… Judith, he didn’t interrupt you.

David:

I mean, those of us in our thirties don’t deserve to be dehumanised and patronized the way that Judith Collins just did – that’s a disgrace! But in all seriousness… in all seriousness, um… you know, um we all like the “Aunty Judith” routine – and I have to say that Judith Collins is someone who’s a member of parliament who does from time to time say “look I think we could cool down here” – and good on her.

But it’s a question of priorities. If people think that me saying that a politician who wants to expand the powers of the state to decide what you’re allowed to say and um… when they hear me say it, think that the way I say it is more important than the issue of freedom of speech – then I think that person has their priorities wrong.

And I do think that a politician who wants to put stricter boundaries around what people are allowed to say, when they genuinely believe it, is a menace -not to our society – but to give me my proper quote – to freedom in our society. Because that is how tyranny begins and I think we should be a lot more worried about that, than how exactly it is said.

Recording continues but this transcript ends at 7:18

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