Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has defended not allowing controversial activists from speaking at Council venues, after a group raised $50,000 to begin legal action against Auckland Council for the decision.
Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux had been banned from speaking at Auckland Council venues after intending to bring their tour to New Zealand. Ms Southern is an author and her views have been described as anti-Islam, anti-refugee, anti-feminist and borderline white nationalist, and Mr Molyneux is also an author and YouTuber, and he covers topics such as multiculturalism, anti-feminism and anarcho-capitalism.
Mr Goff said on TVNZ1's Q+A today the decision was "fully in line with Auckland's policy".
"Our city has to be an inclusive city, we're hugely diverse.
"When Regional Facilities Auckland came to me and said, 'We've got this problem, these people want to use our facilities', they said they were concerned the speech that these two individuals were engaged in was deliberately provocative to some of our ethnic communities and our faith communities."
When asked by host Corin Dann if it was his right to make the call to not allow them to speak at Auckland Council venues, Mr Goff said: "It's my obligation first of all, to follow the advice that I get from Regional Facilities Auckland".
He said they told him it would be a security threat and that it was "probably inconsistent with the guidelines that we operate under, which is not to bring the council under disrepute".
Mr Goff believed the communities were being "provoked and insulted by the sort of language these people are using".
"I'm not against free speech. I simply made the call to agree with Regional Facilities Auckland that we should not be facilitating their use of our venues, and that's the right call."
When asked if he was happy to fight for the decision in court, Mr Goff said "absolutely, and we'll win".
A crowd-sourced fund to begin legal action against Auckland Council reached its target of $50,000 in less than 24 hours, after two controversial Canadian speakers were banned from using council venues.