Phil Goff was 'entitled' to ban Canadian far-right speakers from council venues, Simon Bridges says

National Party Leader Simon Bridges says Phil Goff is "entitled" to ban far-right Canadian activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux from speaking at council venues.

Ms Southern is a 23-year-old author and her views have been described as anti-Islam, anti-refugee, anti-feminist and borderline white nationalist.

Mr Molyneux is also an author and YouTuber, and he usually covers topics like multiculturalism, anti-feminism and anarcho-capitalism.

The pair were due to speak at the Bruce Mason Theatre in August as part of an Australasian tour, but Mr Goff on Friday said he would not allow any Auckland Council venue to be used by them, and they then cancelled their visit to New Zealand.

"[Auckland Council] venues shouldn't be used to stir up ethnic or religious tensions ... views that divide rather than unite are repugnant and I have made my views on this very clear.

"The right to free speech does not mean the right to be provided with an [Auckland Concil] platform for that speech."

Both the UK and Australia have declined visa for Ms Southern, with the UK saying her presence was "not conducive to the public good".

Ms Southern responded to Mr Goff's decision by Tweeting: "Hey friends in New Zealand ~ looks like you've got a free speech issue there!

"No system will survive if it is contingent on shutting down any discussion or criticism of its issues ... what kind of faith does this inspire in your ideology if it cannot be questioned? Does the "enrichment" of diversity come at the cost of our rights to speech?"

Mr Bridges, speaking this morning to TVNZ 1's Breakfast programme, said Mr Goff was "entitled" to ban them from the venues, but that banning them from entering New Zealand would be too far.

"I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying but I think it's a dangerous thing to say "because we don't like what you're saying we won't let you in," Mr Bridges said.

"I can see how he's made his decision, but I wouldn't have banned them from coming to New Zealand.

"I think we should allow people we strongly disagree with to come - we're a mature, liberal democracy."

The pair were technically not banned from coming to New Zealand, but were not granted automatic visas due to being denied entry to the United Kingdom previously.

Under New Zealand's Human Rights Act, it is illegal to incite hostility against any group based on their race - to "bring into contempt or ridicule, any such group of persons in New Zealand on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national origins of that group of persons".

However, this is tempered by the Bill of Rights Act, which guarantees freedom of expression: "everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the right to seek, receive, and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form".

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



The 140-year-old Christchurch suburb that may disappear from the map

Where we are born and raised is a big part of our identity, but imagine if your hometown was gradually disappearing?

The suburb of Sockburn in Christchurch has been around, in name at least, for the past 140 years.

Over 6000 people still live there, but the surrounding suburbs are quickly engulfing it from all sides and the Sockburnian culture threatens to disappear altogether.

TVNZ1 Seven Sharp's Julian Lee visited the proud little suburb. To find out more watch the video above.

Surrounding suburbs are quickly engulfing Sockburn from all sides. Source: Seven Sharp


Researcher talks 'positive knock-on effect' to animal welfare keeping us and our pets happy

Animal professional advocates and scientists are in Auckland for the 2018 Animal Welfare Conference.

Animal Welfare Conference organiser Professor Natalie Warren spoke to TVNZ’s Breakfast this morning about the links between human and animal welfare, and how treating animals well can help improve our lives and the lives of our beloved pets.

Professor Warren says her research in 'one welfare', which focuses on "exploring the links between human and animal welfare", particularly in "parts of the world where we’ve got enormous human welfare concerns and lots of competing human agendas".

She says the idea is about "really trying to emphasise the fact that you’re not just focusing on the animal end of the story, but you're also trying to make the reasons why we need to improve our animal welfare relevant to those people".

"The way that you make things relevant to humans is looking at it through a human lens and saying, 'If you improve things for animals, you will also have a knock-on effect – a positive knock-on effect – from improving the world for humans."

Professor Warren says one example is in developing countries, where you "can see that you have animals that are being kept in quite horrible conditions in many places of the world".

"You also find that you've got humans living alongside those who are dependent upon those animals, [and] dependent on those being productive. But actually, because of the way those animals are being kept, they're stressed, their immune systems are not great, they're more susceptible to disease, have higher welfare problems, and that then means that they don't produce as much food for those humans.

She says while it may appear like a 'chicken or the egg' situation, it also depends on a number of contributing factors which aren't always readily apparent.

"Although we're very familiar with what animal welfare is, in many parts of the world, there isn't even a word for animal welfare.

"There's not a real history or a culture of real care for animals, so you’re trying to make animal welfare relevant to people, and so, yes, you are going to end up with competing human agendas, but you also have to recognise that you provide the evidence, you provide the mechanisms through human behaviour change to show people how they can improve things for animals and why that matters for their welfare."

However, she acknowledges that the shift in thinking can be "very difficult, like boiling an ocean".

"It is a huge effort and lots and lots of different animal welfare charities around the world and in New Zealand - lots of government agencies - spend quite a lot of time trying to work out how to do this.

"I think just saying that people are cruel to animals is really not the story at all. What the truth is is that many people don't know how to improve animal welfare for animals, they don't know why it's important and it's up to us to look at ways that we can change the lens that they're looking through – change their behaviour so that they can see why it's important to improve conditions for animals."

Animal Welfare Conference speaker Natalie Warren spoke to Breakfast about changing our approach to animal welfare to improve the lives of our pets. Source: Breakfast

TODAY'S
FEATURED STORIES

Three people arrested after police conduct search warrants targeting organised crime, drugs in Bay of Plenty

Police have arrested three people so far today after executing a number of search warrants in the eastern Bay of Plenty as part of Operation Notus II.

Operation Notus II is the second phase of a long-running investgation, led by the National Organised Crime Group, into organised crime and the supply and supplying of methamphetamine and cannabis in the eastern Bay of Plenty region.

Search warrants were conducted this morning in properties in Kawerau, Whakatāne and Te Teko.

Two men and a woman were arrested. 

They are facing a number of charges, including possession for supply, and supplying, methamphetamine and cannabis, as well as firearms-related offending.

They will appear in Whakatāne District Court this afternoon.

Operation Notus, launched in October 2017, revealed the Kawerau Mongrel Mob's involvement in the commercial distribution of meth and cannabis to the community.

As a result of the investigation, 48 people were arrested and almost $3 million in assets were frozen in March 2018.

Acting Eastern Bay of Plenty Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Richard Miller, said, "This was a major disruption to organised crime and methamphetamine supply in EBOP".

Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty
Guns seized during Operation Notus II in the Eastern Bay of Plenty Source: NZ Police


Messages released to 1 NEWS show Massey’s Vice Chancellor had problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was barred from campus talk

Newly released documents show Massey University's Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus.

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence".

Her decision to block the former National and Act leader from speaking drew widespread criticism.

That decision was made public on August 7, and spoke of a great security risk to students, staff and the public. These newly released documents show the lead-up to that decision.

Emails show Professor Thomas weeks beforehand on July 13 saying, "I am still fretting about the student club invitation to Don Brash… I really want to find a way to indicate that Brash is not welcome on campus unless he agrees to abide by our values and the laws against hate speech".

Professor Thomas continued: "My strong preference is that we stop it occurring."

The next day, Professor Thomas wrote in another email: "But we still have a couple of trails of evidence, then we need to speak to [the] politics club, and then refuse entry to campus if students don’t oblige – and be proactive at that point before Brash can get to the media."

Before both those emails, she wrote in another on July 10 that she "wanted to know what our options re not allowing politics club to hold event on campus… Will hit the fan in the media if we go this way".

Newly released documents show Massey University’s Vice Chancellor had a problem with Don Brash speaking long before he was publicly barred from speaking on campus. Source: 1 NEWS

When Jan Thomas pulled the plug on Dr Brash's appearance, she said it came after security concerns surrounding a threat involving a gun.

But Police told 1 NEWS at the time they were not contacted before the decision to cancel was made.

The new documents confirm this, with Massey University saying there were no written communications sent or received from the police. In an email to staff, Jan Thomas said she arranged a meeting with local police to discuss security but "before that meeting could take place... I made the decision to cancel the booking of the event on our campus".

Included in the documents is a Facebook user comment about Don Brash's event saying "take a gun".

Mr Brash was due to speak at the university, but had his speech cancelled by Jan Thomas. Source: 1 NEWS

BARRAGE OF CRITICISM

Massey University released several hundred pages of emails to 1 NEWS, showing an onslaught of criticism aimed at the Vice-Chancellor. Some called for her resignation.

Messages left on voicemail spoke of disappointment. "I'm absolutely horrified at the decision… I am very very concerned at the lack of free speech," one caller said.

"My son is due to graduate from college very soon, and we're looking at universities and Massey was one of them, but a little concerned about what I’ve heard about some free speech restrictions on campus," another voice message said.

Emails from former students were also critical.

"As an alumni of Massey University I wish to express my displeasure at your decision to ban former leader of the National Party Don Brash from speaking at Massey University," one wrote.

The University remains at odds with police over claims of security concerns and threats of violence. Source: 1 NEWS

A "proud Massey chemistry alumni" said they were very disappointed to learn that their friend Don Brash "had been deplatformed for his talk".

"I am ashamed to have to tell my friends, associates and colleagues that I am a Massey University graduate from this day forward,"another person wrote.

Another message said they had instructed their Trust not to fund any of their children or grandchildren to attend any programme or course at Massey University. "There are always consequences when you attack the freedoms our family spent so much of our lives to protect," they wrote.

"Please do the honorable thing and resign as Vice Chancellor” another former student wrote. “Massey has lost a great deal of credibility as a learning institution and I’m embarrassed to be associated with my former university."

The former National Party leader and free speech advocate has hit out at the university over its decision. Source: 1 NEWS

A short statement drafted for the university's contact centre to reply to people with said the decision wasn't taken lightly, and that Professor Thomas made the decision taking the gun threat into account.

It further added that "recent events… suggest the current situation is potentially volatile."

A trail of transcripts of voicemail messages and emails to and from the Vice Chancellor's office have been released to 1 NEWS, showing Jan Thomas citing "trails of evidence". Source: 1 NEWS