NZ Media Freedom to Be Muzzled

All the more reason to keep supporting Independent and Uncensored News Media. More Orwellian implementations on the way!

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At a post-Cabinet press conference on the 8th of February, just two weeks after becoming New Zealand’s 41st Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins announced that Labour’s proposed hate speech legislation would be withdrawn and the matter referred to the Law Commission.


Dr Muriel Newman

He explained the Law Commission had “a good track record of developing guidance on difficult issues.”

The real reason the legislation was dumped was, of course, its unpopularity with voters. For a new PM desperately trying to win an election, abandoning it was the only sensible thing to do.

When asked by the media about the timing of the Government’s proposed regulation of social media, Prime Minister Hipkins confirmed no changes had been made – it “will continue to progress on the timetable it was on before.”

We now know the Department of Internal Affairs’ timetable was for a 1 June announcement of 8 weeks of public consultation on their “Safer Online Services and Media Platforms” proposal.

Immediately described as ‘hate speech by the back door’, their new regulations will not only cover the New Zealand public, social media companies, on-line platforms, films, and gaming, but the mainstream media as well.

Quite why such a controversial crackdown on free speech would be released so close to an election is hard to fathom, especially as any legislation would not be introduced until 2024 – and only if Labour is returned to government. Perhaps the inexperienced new Minister and first term MP Barbara Edmonds did not recognise the political danger.

The DIA proposal is far reaching. It involves the establishment of a new Government regulator – already dubbed ‘Big Brother’ – with the power to control what can and cannot be discussed online by all media organisations that have an annual audience of more than 100,000 New Zealanders or a mailing list that reaches 25,000 or more subscribers.

Codes of practice for media organisations will be developed by the industry, community groups and academics – without the scrutiny of Parliament or input from the public. Once approved by the regulator, any non-compliance will be punished through fines of up to $200,000 and orders to take-down offending content. 

The proposed regulator would have the power to over-ride the new Aotearoa New Zealand Code of Practice for Online Safety and Harms developed by Netsafe for the big tech companies including Facebook, Google, and Twitter, and the Harmful Digital Communications Act, as well as a range of long established statutory and self-regulatory bodies including the Broadcasting Standards Authority, the Media Council, the Advertising Standards Authority, and the work of the Chief Censor.

The new regime smacks of jack-booted totalitarianism

 – as freelance journalist Janet Wilson explains:

“In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the citizens of Oceania are watched everywhere they go through telescreens by the ruling Party’s omniscient leader Big Brother… 

“Like 1984 it breeds a world where paranoia and cynical distrust reign supreme. Where it’s enough for someone to complain that they don’t feel ‘safe’ which will bring that content provider under the auspices of the regulator who’ll then examine the provider’s safety plan. If the safety plan is found wanting, for whatever reason, if you are deemed to have offended then watch out, the weaponisation of the complaints process is complete. The regulator has the power to take down your content and fine you. Mr Orwell couldn’t have designed a more labyrinthine system that robs a population of their greatest power, the ability to express themselves.”

As if this is not frightening enough, the regulator would also be under the influence of Labour’s racist agenda – as the consultation paper explains:

“It is important that the new regulatory framework reflects New Zealand’s unique cultural and social perspectives, and that it is grounded in Te Tiriti o Waitangi. The new regulatory framework would aim to achieve outcomes that reflect Maori perspectives, needs, and aspirations.”

They expect “a significant Maori presence on the Board of the regulator” and recommend a “formal Maori advisory structure”. They also suggest Maori should be involved in creating codes of conduct that reflect cultural values and include cultural competency requirements.

A hint of where this could lead can be seen in the new social media code of practice developed by Netsafe last year:

“The Code has been developed… in consultation with Maori advisors… The intention and development of the Code is encapsulated by four key Maori principles of mahi tahi (solidarity), kauhanganuitanga (balance), mana tangata (humanity) and mana (respect), which are critical and necessary to realising the purpose and aspirations of the Code…”

Since Maori will be in a position to significantly influence Labour’s new media regulator, it doesn’t take much imagination to conclude that commentary regarded as critical of their agenda – such as challenging their Treaty ‘partnership’ myth, co-governance and He Puapua – will be considered ‘unsafe’ and ‘harmful’ hate speech and targeted for heavy regulation.

The dominance of a Maori influence in all regulations and legislation now produced by the Labour Government can be traced back to the powerful Office for Maori Crown Relations, that was established in 2018 in collaboration with Iwi Leaders. 

The Herald’s senior political journalist Audrey Young provided an insight into this powerful organisation last year, pointing out that the Minister had instructed it to operate “under the radar”. As a result, most people are unaware of its existence, in spite of the profound influence it is having – as the vehicle Labour’s Maori caucus is using to embed co-governance throughout the State sector.

Through a framework that not only forces public service chief executives to establish cultural competency targets for all staff, the Office also imposes a Maori veto over all Government policy:

“In 2019 the Cabinet Office issued a new circular for all ministers and chief executives to apply whenever new policy is being developed, to ensure it is compliant with the Treaty.”

Their remit has now been expanded to cover any organisation connected to the government in any way. As a result, Treaty and cultural competency requirements are appearing throughout the private sector as well as the public sector, as New Zealand is being transformed into an Apartheid nation where a Maori world view dominates.

This can be seen only too clearly in the proposal from the New Zealand Transport Agency to introduce almost 100 bilingual traffic signs. Cultural sensitivities now appear to have become more important to the NZTA, than their primary mandate of road safety.

Asked why Maori is displayed as the dominant language in the signs, with English in a smaller secondary position, when most motorists only understand English, the Agency explains:

“One of the design principles for bilingual traffic signs is for te reo Maori to be presented in a culturally appropriate way to reflect the mana of the language. Where te reo Maori and English text cannot be displayed as equal then te reo Maori should be more prominent. Given that te reo Maori is used less than English throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, Waka Kotahi is of the view that it needs to be promoted if it is to achieve equality with English in New Zealand.”

Submissions on the bilingual traffic sign debacle close on Friday 30 June – full details can be found HERE.

And the closing date for submissions on Labour’s new hate speech proposal is 31 July, with details found HERE.   

These two government consultation processes illustrate how out of touch the Labour Government has become. Peripheral matters are now regarded as mainstream, while mainstream issues like ensuring our health system is running smoothly, that children attend school and are getting a top-quality education, and that crime is under control, have fallen into disarray.

Meanwhile the stream of Ministerial controversies just keeps growing: the sacking of Stuart Nash for disclosing confidential Cabinet information; the desertion of Meka Whaitiri to the Maori Party; the reprimand of Justice Minister Kiri Allan for attacking RadioNZ after her fiancée missed a top job; the stuff up over the Census with Statistics Minister Deborah Russell now retracting her promise to resign if she didn’t reach her 90 percent response target; the hauling of Education Minister Jan Tinetti in front of the Privileges Committee for misleading Parliament; and now the unfolding saga of lies and deceit by the “river of filth” Transport Minister Michael Wood over his on-going failure to publicly disclose and sell his Auckland Airport shares. 

There is now not only a growing perception of incompetent Ministers ignoring the rules, but also of leadership failure at the highest level, with the Cabinet Office telling the Minister 12 times over a two year period to comply, instead of enforcing their requirement.  
All of this paints a dismal picture of a woeful Government completely out of its depth and doing untold damage to our country – as this week’s NZCPR Guest Commentator, Frank Newman encapsulates in his narrative “If I wanted New Zealand to fail”:

If I wanted New Zealand to fail…

To suffer, not prosper; to despair, not dream.

I would start with democracy itself.

I would say it is not working. 

I’d say that a House of Representatives that represents all people, does not suit a modern society. 

I’d call it old-fashioned. 

I’d say everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others…

If I wanted New Zealand to fail…

I would make bold promises, then hire an army of spin doctors to make excuses when things go wrong.

I would make the independent media financially dependent on the government so that instead of holding the politicians to account, the Government’s narrative becomes their narrative…

If I wanted New Zealand to fail…

I would prey on the goodness and decency of ordinary New Zealanders.

I would only need to convince them… that all of this is for the greater good… that politicians are the answer to their problems, not the cause… 

If I wanted New Zealand to fail… 

I wouldn’t change a thing.

The full narrative may be read HERE.

Finally, we are pleased to announce that our ambitious project to print and deliver free copies of Sir Apirana Ngata’s explanation of the Treaty of Waitangi to New Zealand households is now underway.

A trained lawyer and Member of Parliament for 39 years, Sir Apirana Ngata is one of New Zealand’s most respected Maori leaders – and the face of our $50 bank note.

His clear and concise explanation of the Treaty was written in the Maori language in 1922 in response to questions about its meaning.

Forty-one years later, with questions still remaining, Sir Apirana’s explanation was translated into English and distributed free of charge to Maori households as an insert in a government magazine.

Another forty years on, with the debate continuing and the Treaty being reinterpreted, we are distributing Sir Apirana’s explanation to Kiwi households to set the record straight about the Treaty’s original meaning.

Our project is in two parts.

The first is printing Sir Apirana’s explanation in a format that allows for mass distribution to an estimated 1.4 million households – namely as a quality insert in the country’s newspaper network.

And the second part involves printing 10,000 copies of the explanation as an A5 booklet to send to libraries and selected schools.

At this stage, thanks to the generosity of NZCPR readers, we have raised sufficient funding to print the 10,000 booklets and 500,000 of the inserts. Accordingly, we are now launching an urgent fundraiser to cover the cost of printing and distributing the balance of the inserts.

If you would like to support this project to set the record straight on the original meaning of the Treaty, then please visit our fundraising page HERE. Complimentary copies of the A5 booklet will be available to those who donate to this project. And, if you know anyone else who might be interested in helping, please encourage them to visit our fundraising page as well.


Dr Muriel Newman established the New Zealand Centre for Political Research as a public policy think tank in 2005 after nine years as a Member of Parliament. A former Chamber of Commerce President, her… More by Dr Muriel Newman

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Martin Harris

I have a lovely partner and 3 very active youngsters. We live in the earthquake ravaged Eastern Suburbs of Christchurch, New Zealand. I began commenting/posting on Uncensored back in early 2012 looking for discussion and answers on the cause and agendas relating to our quakes. I have always maintained an interest in ancient mysteries, UFOs, hidden agendas, geoengineering and secret societies and keep a close eye on current world events. Since 2013 I have been an active member of community, being granted admin status and publishing many blogs and discussion threads. At this time I'm now helping out with admin and moderation duties here at Uncensored where my online "life" began.

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