Next week, New Zealand is expected to sign the United Nations’ Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration. While it is non-binding, the protocol could still damage New Zealanders’ right to free speech and debate.
The Free Speech Coalition is indifferent on immigration policy matters; reasonable people can agree to disagree. However, the Government should not be signing an agreement that says it will seek to restrict free speech on immigration matters.
Objective 17 of the Compact looks to prevent critical speech of immigration policies in an attempt to combat xenophobia and racism. The problem with this is that many legitimate and genuine concerns about immigration are framed as ‘racist’ by some people. The Compact says that governments should defund media which report “intolerant” views. It goes further and says they should be denied “support”, which seems to mean the government should interfere with private funding. Almost any unwelcome truth can be termed “intolerant”, so the Compact will be a tool to suppress New Zealanders speaking their minds.
Here is a good analysis written by the Free Speech Coalition's own David Farrar on Stuart McCutcheon's comments on the principles of free speech in the university environment in New Zealand.