Freedom to Speak

ACT party

Freedom of expression is the basis of all freedoms. It has an inherent value. We each experience life in a unique way and should be free to share that experience with others. It also has a practical value. Feminists or anti-Springbok tour protestors alike would not have been as successful as they were without having the ability to make unpopular statements.

Hate speech laws punish people on the basis of opinion. Usually, opinion is met by opinion, but under hate speech laws opinion is met by the power of the state. Distinguishing hate speech from genuine criticism on any objective basis is impossible. We now regularly see people try to use claims of ‘hate speech’ as a weapon against their political opponents. This is deeply divisive.

As the Government considers further restricting speech, we risk following other countries into censorship, where elites decide what we can and can’t say. ACT stands staunchly in favour of freedom of expression. We need to remove restrictions on freedom of expression and make it clear that it is a critical value for New Zealand.

ACT will:

  • Repeal existing hate speech laws. ACT will remove restrictions on freedom of expression which currently makes ‘insulting’, ‘abusive’ and ‘offensive’ speech unlawful
  • Specify that the Harmful Digital Communications Act only applies if the complainant is under the age of 18
  • Abolish the Human Rights Commission.

Read more on Act’s freedom to speak policy here.

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