Tuesday, March 10, 2009

More local government authoritarianism

Last year, Auckland City Council got into a serious fight with pornographer Steve Crow over the latter's annual "boobs on bikes" parade. Spurred on by fringe Christian groups like Family First, they sought to ban it, but their efforts were squashed by the District Court [PDF], which refused an injunction on the grounds that while it may be tacky, the parade was not legally offensive, and in any case the council's proposed bylaw likely violated the right to freedom of expression affirmed in the BORA. So, now they've hit on another plan: legislation:

A working party on the bylaw, headed by councillor Graeme Mulholland, has instead recommended that the council write to Prime Minister John Key "to put council's case and seek a legis-lative change to enable the council to regulate events that are not deemed suitable to the public domain".
Of course, this is going to run into exactly the same problem they ran into in court: the event is not offensive per se, and any attempt to allow a council to ban such events is likely to fall foul of the BORA. OTOH, given the contempt the government has shown for the BORA on other matters, maybe the Auckland City Council is hoping they'll ignore it for the wowsers as well.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering: where does ACT stand on this? They call themselves "the liberal party", and one of their MPs spent the last two years campaigning for freedom of expression. Do they think that principle also applies to Steve Crow - or only to rich people trying to buy elections?

(People wondering where I stand on "boobs on bikes" are advised to read the disclaimer in this post before attributing views)