'We will stick up for freedom of speech': Bridges

National Party leader Simon Bridges speaks to about 80 people at the Mornington Presbyterian...
National Party leader Simon Bridges. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
National Party leader Simon Bridges says he thinks the current laws around hate speech are fit for purpose, but the party would defend freedom of speech if necessary.

ACT Party leader David Seymour has put forward a proposal to change laws covering insulting and offensive speech.

Speaking to Morning Report today, Mr Bridges said he thought the current laws around freedom speech were fit for purpose.

He said he wanted to wait and see what the contents of ACT's proposal and the government's proposal for hate speech were, but National would defend freedom of speech if necessary.

"He's espousing a view on freedom. Well actually, many National Party caucus members - probably all actually ... would go along with that, broadly. You then come to what he's saying on freedom of speech. Where I would differ with David - I haven't seen his bill, let's give him the chance to have a bill and put it before us and go through the detail on it before we say definitively yes or no.

"I don't see particular problems in the law today that mean that a New Zealander can't get out there and have freedom of speech.

"I think many New Zealanders are worried about where the government may go following Christchurch ... on that there's no question we will stick up for freedom of speech.

"My view is if you look at the current law and we already have that covered for genuine hate speech."

He didn't think there were any examples in New Zealand of anyone's free speech being curbed.

Nor did he think the government would take any steps that encroached on freedom of speech.

"My view is if you look at the current law. We already have that covered for genuine hate speech. What that is I suppose the problem is it's a bit in the eye of the beholder. It isn't and shouldn't be.

"It's not the right not to be offended. It's not the right to have someone not say something you vehemently disagree with."

He said if the government came up with a strong hate speech law it was unlikely National would offer bipartisan support for it.

Comments

Well the sensible new Zealander can see how its under threat.... with this far left government......