18 Jun 2019

ACT's proposed bill would allow abusive, hate speech - law expert

From Morning Report, 8:35 am on 18 June 2019

An ACT party proposal to repeal parts of the Human Rights Act is being questioned by a leading law professor.

The party's new Freedom to Speak Bill takes aim at legislation covering insulting and offensive speech.

But Andrew Geddis, Professor of Law at Otago University, says the bill makes little sense.

"The ACT Party's not just proposing getting rid of the ban on hate speech, they propose getting rid of all forms of insulting or abusive speech.

"That covers not just people who engage in racially-charged language towards others in public," Professor Geddis tells Corin Dann.

"It would cover, for instance, a gang member going into a park and saying to a family that's picnicking: 'Get out of here with your ugly children, you've got no right to be in this park...'

"Under the ACT party proposal, the law would be silent about what could be done in that situation. That person would be engaging in 'free speech' and the police would have no power to do anything against them."