A big boost to repealing the sedition law

April 24th, 2007 at 5:11 pm by David Farrar

A big thumbs up to the four minor parties today who combined forces to advocate for the repeal of NZ’s sedition laws. This is a superb example of how minor parties can make a difference on issues which the big parties may not see as crucial, but are important none the less.

Peter Dunne put together what some may call an unlikely coalition of United Future, Greens, Maori Party and ACT. They held a press conference at 2.30 pm to announce their support and to challenge one or both of the major parties to also support repeal. Their 15 votes are enough to pass it with either Labour or National.

Peter spoke about how the provisions conflict with our regard for free speech and that there are other laws to deal with actual criminal incitement. Keith Locke was excellent in outlining all the historical cases of sedition and how regrettable it is Labour have yet to agree to repeal it, considering three Labour Party leaders from the past have been charged with sedition themselves (Holland, Fraser and Nash).

Then Heather Roy spoke about the three modern cases in the last couple of years and how after 50 years of disuse, the Police have suddenly discovered it is a great catch-all charge which they are using instead of more appropriate other charges. The case of the Dunedin bar owner who was charged with sedition for having a beer for petrol soaked couch competition was a great example of how the law is currently being used.

The minor parties hope the Government will agree to repeal as a Government bill (and Burton has said they will decide by October), but if not they may keep submitting it as a private member’s bill.

I met Idiot/Savant from No Right Turn at the conference, and he deserves much of the credit for publicising and researching the issue. It’s a good example of how a blogger can make a difference.

NZPA cover the press conference here.

I happened to run into Steven Price on Molesworth Street just minutes after finishing talking about him over coffee with Idiot/Savant. In between debating electoral law, Steven made the point on the sedition repeal, that if both ACT and Greens are agreed on something, that’s usually a good sign it should be done!

So kudos again to Peter Dunne for organising the coalition, and to the other parties for working together on this. It does show the value the smaller parties can bring to Parliament.

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102 Responses to “A big boost to repealing the sedition law”

  1. Nicholas O'Kane () says:

    Good work ACT/ United future/ Greens/ maori party. I hope the government gets along and tries to repeal the sedition law. If Labour tries to keep the sedition laws in place then a private emmbers bill will be nice. The sedition laws are out of date and pose a threat to freedom of speech. I also hope the four parties in favour of repealing sedition laws also oppose another threat to free speech, namely Labours plans to ban people spending $60 000 or more (unless you’re a union)criticizing the government within a election year.

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  2. stan () says:

    meh, he did it solely for the purposes of media attention and populism. i don’t believe for one second he genuinely gave a shit

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  3. Jim D () says:

    Have they really got nothing better to do than talk about some sedition law that nobody cares about? Run the country you morons!

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  4. Murray () says:

    Hey Jim I strongly suspect Tim Selwyn cares about it.

    And judging by the widespread outrage from bloggers from all sides so do a lot of other people.

    I care, David cares. You don’t care but quick check and turns out that you personally don’t constitute “everyone”

    Getting rid of outdated and anti-democratic laws IS running the country. Its their damn job.

    You meanwhile need to up your game. Weak comment, poorly constructed argument and of little value.

    D- see me after class.

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  5. side show bob () says:

    Dear Leader will be spewing, if sedition goes how will she deal to all the evil rightwing bloggers come 2008. I hope National supports this repeal as the current regime appears more then willing to inforce their version of democracy on us all.

    To Jim D, this may not seem that important to you prehaps you should remind yourself what tomorrow is and why so many kiwis died. The point has been made that the charge of sedition was not used for some fifty years but all of a sudden it is back in favor, you should ask yourself why, it is important!!

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  6. james cairney () says:

    Well said, it simply has to go.

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  7. Graeme Edgeler () says:

    So, am I the first person to comment from a Nintendo Wii?

    ps sorry for thread-jacking; this is great news, perhaps Dunne can get unanimous consent for the bill’s introduction?

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  8. Bello () says:

    The sweet sight of democracy in action. I cannot believe there are still reasonable people around who want to go back to the cosy First Past the Post duopoly.

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  9. Jim D () says:

    Murray, I didn’t actually say that the sedition law shouldn’t be repealed. I actually agree that it should be repealed. My beef was with the way this issue was handled – the minor parties called some wanky press conference for cheap prime time news covereage.

    As Peter Dunne said, they just need one of the major parties to agree to vote with them and they have the numbers to repeal the sedition law – there was no need for a press conference. This could have all been sorted out with a couple of phone calls.

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  10. David Farrar () says:

    Jim – a public press conference is a legitimate way of pressuring the other parties to support a law change.

    It also is rare to have those four parties agree on something, which made it newsworthy.

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  11. Murray () says:

    They should communicate with the country at large by what method… “the Force”?

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  12. bunctious () says:

    Dear Mr Farrar,
    The Greens pulled that coalition together, not UF, though i’m sure your devotion to Green bashing would preclude you from mentioning that.
    BTW, the Crow story was a j.o.k.e. Disturbingly, some media and bloggers took it seriously and spread it out of context. Any excuse to slam those crazy hippies huh David?

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  13. bunctious () says:

    Dear Mr Farrar,
    The Greens pulled that coalition together, not UF, though i’m sure your devotion to Green bashing would preclude you from mentioning that.
    BTW, the Crow story was a j.o.k.e. Disturbingly, some media and bloggers took it seriously and spread it out of context. Any excuse to slam those crazy hippies huh David?

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  14. bunctious () says:

    Dear Mr Farrar,
    The Greens pulled that coalition together, not UF, though i’m sure your devotion to Green bashing would preclude you from mentioning that.
    BTW, the Crow story was a j.o.k.e. Disturbingly, some media and bloggers took it seriously and spread it out of context. Any excuse to slam those crazy hippies huh David?

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