Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Wellington City Council suppresses freedom of speech

Wellington City Council is apparently attempting to suppress the Vote With Both Eyes Open campaign, denying them permission to use public bollards for their posters, and threatening to fine them for each poster they put up. This is a serious attack on freedom of speech, and it is difficult to see how it could survive any sort of Bill of Rights review. WCC provides free public advertising space; they cannot legitimately censor it on the basis of political content - particularly during an election campaign. Claiming that there is a non-free alternative does not cut it - it simply confines political speech only to the rich, while silencing the broader community.

Our democracy is enriched if people speak up and participate in it. Wellington City Council should be supporting that. They should recognise that grassroots political campaigns are not a commercial enterprise, and let them speak freely.