13 Jun 2013

No change to legal threshold of racism

12:03 pm on 13 June 2013

Justice Minister Judith Collins has told a parliamentary select committee she has no plans to lower the legal threshold for what constitutes racism in New Zealand.

This comes a fortnight after newspapers published a controversial cartoon, depicting overweight Polynesians celebrating the food in schools programme as an excuse to spend more on drinking, smoking and gambling.

Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy has said while the cartoon is appalling and offensive, it does not meet the threshold for racism in the Human Rights Act.

At the Justice committee on Thursday, Ms Collins told MPs the threshold needs to be set high because New Zealand is a country of freedom and she does not intend to lower that bar.

Ms Collins says although the tradition of media freedom can be extremely annoying for politicians, it needs to be balanced.