Thursday, July 19, 2018

A curious absence

The Free Speech Coalition has filed its suit against Phil Goff and the Auckland Council over their cancellation of a Nazi event, seeking to have the decision overturned. But reading the statement of claim, there's an odd omission: while they cite a variety of administrative law reasons and breach of sections 14 - 17 (freedom of expression, religion, assembly and association) of the Bill of Rights Act as reasons to overturn the decision, for some reason they don't include their strongest case: breach of the right to freedom from discrimination on the basis of political opinion. Its alluded to in passing when suggesting that Goff unlawfully directed the decision, but not otherwise mentioned. I'm not sure whether this is because they felt it would be difficult to prove, or because several of the Coalition's backers (e.g. Stephen Franks) are ideologically opposed to anti-discrimination legislation, but given that they're throwing the kitchen sink at it elsewhere, its a curious absence.

They've requested an urgent hearing and interim orders allowing the event to proceed, though whether they get it is another question. Still, hopefully we'll have a ruling and some clarification on local authority powers and freedom of speech soon.