Controversial far-right Canadian speakers granted 10-day work visas to New Zealand

Controversial Canadian speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux have been granted work visas to enter New Zealand, Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway announced today. 

Mr Bridges said while he does "disagree strongly" with the views of Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, "freedom of speech matters". Source: Breakfast

"Immigration New Zealand’s decision in no way condones the views expressed by the pair, which are repugnant to this Government and run counter to the kind and tolerant values of the vast majority of New Zealanders," he said. 

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"I understand that many people would prefer it if Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux never set foot in New Zealand. However the Immigration Act and immigration instructions have clear criteria for the granting of a visa, including certain character requirements, all of which I have been advised the pair meet."

The decision comes after the group Free Speech New Zealand filed court action on Wednesday against Auckland Council after the council would not allow the pair to speak on Council-owned venues, citing safety issues as the reasoning. 

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told RNZ's Morning Report on July 10 he was "not going to aid and abet people who spout racist nonsense by providing them with a venue"

"Neither speaker has been convicted of a crime, nor banned from the United Kingdom or Australia as has been previously reported," Mr Lees-Galloway said. 

Ms Southern tweeted on July 9 a letter she said she received from Immigration New Zealand not allowing her entry into New Zealand, that was later retracted. 

It said due to her ban from entering the UK, she would not be given a visa to New Zealand but she could seek to obtain a Special Direction before entering. 

However, Ms Southern tweeted a follow up email which said Immigration Border Operations "recently confirmed that your ban from the UK does not affect your ability to travel to, or enter New Zealand".

"Thanks I guess? Now if we could be unbanned from our venue that'd be great," Ms Southern wrote.

The work visa will give the pair 10 days in New Zealand. 

Most watched: Mars set to put on dazzling July display – watch our stunning visual explainer

This story was first published on Thursday July 19.

Along with a lunar eclipse, July’s night skies are set to put on a brilliant light show. Source: 1 NEWS

If you thought the lights in the night sky were looking brighter lately, you’d be right.

Along with a lunar eclipse, July’s night skies are set to put on a spectacular light show. 

Mars is set to come the closest its been to Earth since 2003, the next closest it will be isn't for another 17 years.

This month the red planet will appear bigger and brighter in the night sky, being easier to spot without a telescope.

On July 27, Earth will line up directly between Mars and the Sun in what's called 'in opposition'. But this isn't just any opposition, this year a perihelion opposition is taking place.

Mars perihelion is the point when the planet is closest to the Sun in its orbit.

Not only will Mars appear brighter but also Jupiter, Saturn and Antares (the 15th brightest star).

Watch the above video to find out when you can spot each planet and the star Antares in the night sky.



For Sale: Defence Force light armoured vehicles sit idle waiting for a buyer

The Defence Force is struggling to sell 20 light armoured vehicles (LAVs) that have been sitting idle for seven years because they are surplus to requirements.

Documents obtained under the Official Information Act reveal an unnamed foreign delegation inspected the LAVs early last year, but a year-and-a-half on, they're still in storage.

The previous Labour government bought 105 LAVs from General Dynamics Land Systems Canada for $653 million. They entered service in 2003.

One was destroyed in a bomb attack in Afghanistan and only some of the remaining 104 are regularly used.

Defence decided it didn't need 20 of them in 2011 and they have been in storage at the Trentham Military Camp, north of Wellington, waiting for a new home.

OIA documents showed they were inspected by a foreign delegation in February last year - but that didn't lead to anything.

In the past eight years there's been interest from seven countries.

The documents say as time passed and the vehicles get older the price would likely go down.

"The gross unit price was originally estimated at about US $ [redacted] although this expectation is changing over time due to vehicle age and ongoing assessment of the market."

"Any actual sale would be subject to negotiation on price, conditions, commissions and any sale costs," the documents reveal.

Defence expert Dr Ron Smith has previously described the purchase as foolish and doubts whether a sale would ever go through.

"Any income is a good thing, but really it is kind of small beer now ... all the mistakes have been made ... if we can get something out of it at this stage - why not," he said.

National's Mark Mitchell, who was defence minister at the time the foreign delegation came last year, said the net for a buyer had been cast wide.

"Sometimes there's countries that don't have a big budget for their Defence spend ... a second hand LAV might fit into their overall programme and there's lots of countries that could probably meet that criteria ... but I don't think there's any one specific country that has sort of been singled out," he said.

Lessons learned

The Defence Force's procurement process was recently given a glowing reference by Sir Brian Roche.

Hot on the heels of that, Defence Minister Ron Mark announced his first big purchase, the new P8 Poseidon planes that would replace the old Orions.

Mr Mark has been a vocal critic of the LAV purchase for many years.

He was not available for an interview but in a statement said there were too many sitting idle and doing nothing.

Mr Mark said he was looking at new protected mobility vehicles - which could replace the LAVs and other vehicles such as the armoured Light Operational Vehicles - but said any replacement was years away.

He did not say how much the 20 LAVs were being sold for.

The LAV (QAMR) working in the Australian bush, as part of 7th Brigade (Australian Army) in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area.
The LAV (QAMR) working in the Australian bush, as part of 7th Brigade (Australian Army) in the Shoalwater Bay Training Area. Source: New Zealand Defence Force