ACT Party leader David Seymour has spoken out against the “hate speech regime”, firearms laws and the persecution of landlords in the lead-up to September's general election.
Addressing a crowd of party faithful in an Auckland café, Mr Seymour said the coalition Government's call for hate speech laws would allow for people to be punished for exercising their right to free speech.
"It's a sacred right for us to be able to think our thoughts and share them, so long as we are not inciting or threatening violence against each other ... and yet the current Government believes that freedom of speech is dangerous," Mr Seymour says.
"If you're allowed to think and say whatever you like, anything could go wrong. You might think the wrong thing, and worse still, you might even say it. That's why they want so-called hate speech laws.
"Normally, when the Government comes after you to try and punish you, you're allowed to defend yourself with the facts. If you're accused of theft, then it's a very sound defence that you factually didn't take anything.
"The problem with punishing unpopular speech is that no facts can come to your defence when you're punished on the basis of opinion.
"That is why we have to prevent the inevitable mob rule that comes from legally empowering governments to punish unpopular speech. Because it gets worse."
Mr Seymour said the ACT Party would stop the introduction of "subjective laws governing what you can say" and to "repeal any bad laws that we may cop in the dying days of the current coalition Government."
Mr Seymour also claimed the Government's firearm laws "wouldn't work, couldn't work, and now haven't worked."
"Make no mistake – we are no safer today than we were on March 14 because of the Government's actions."
Fifty-one people were killed and 49 others were injured in a terror attack carried out on two Christchurch mosques on March 15 last year.
Mr Seymour pointed to three reasons for the perceived failure of the firearm laws to increase safety in the country, including the lacking number of firearms received under the buyback scheme, the reliance of good policing on trust, and how the suspected Christchurch terror attack gunman was able to obtain a firearms licence.
"They'd done nothing about the woeful state of New Zealand's firearm laws for a generation.
"They knew the public would soon turn on them if they didn't act immediately, so they practiced collective punishment for the worst crime in our nation's history on a group of people who'd done nothing wrong."
Mr Seymour also claimed landlords were "the most persecuted group under this Government" after licenced firearm owners.
"Landlords perform an incredible service," he said.
"If you don't want to save, purchase, do maintenance, pay rates and insurance, and generally be responsible for a property, guess what? Landlords will do it for you.
"Often they charge rent that doesn't even cover the mortgage interest rate on the property they're renting out.
"You might think that landlords are the greatest benefactors in our society ... yet, somehow, landlords have become the whipping boys and girls of this Government.
"Letting fees are banned, tenants are given even more rights to occupy their property against their will, constant regulatory upgrades add to their cost.
"The result is predictable enough. If you make it harder to be a landlord, you get fewer landlords. If you raise their costs, they put up rents.
"Because the Government doesn't understand the relationship between landlords and tenants, because they see the world through a hundred-year-old lens of class warfare, they've kneecapped the very people they're trying to help."