ACT Party says new bill will 'protect freedom of expression'

The ACT party today revealed a new members bill to protect free speech, taking aim at the Human Rights Commission, which leader David Seymour said had “completely failed to defend our most basic human right".

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Leader David Seymour says New Zealanders should not be punished for voicing unpopular opinions. Source: 1 NEWS

In a statement on the ACT website, David Seymour said that freedom of expression is “under attack".

“The Government, urged on by the Greens, is planning to further restrict what New Zealanders are lawfully allowed to say through tougher hate speech laws,” he said.

“The Human Rights Commission has completely failed to defend our most basic human right and has even supported extending restrictions on speech. The media and other parts of the establishment have been silent. ACT has stood alone in defence of our most basic freedom.”

Mr Seymour said ACT’s Freedom to Speak Bill will repeal part of the Human Rights Act and the Summary Offences Act which make insulting and offensive speech unlawful.

“ACT believes that, while it should be a crime to incite or threaten violence, nobody should ever be punished for insulting or offensive speech,” he said.

Mr Seymour plans to relaunch his political party tomorrow, Radio New Zealand reports.

There was no mention in today's statement of a name change which has been predicted as part of a re-brand for the party this weekend.