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Greens allow split vote on online speech bill

Written By: - Date published: 3:35 pm, June 30th, 2015 - 87 comments
Categories: greens, human rights, law - Tags: ,

It is likely that the Harmful Digital Communications Bill will receive its final reading today (for background see Bryce Edwards today).

The Greens are allowing a split vote:

…The Harmful Digital Communications Bill seeks to protect those being “harmed” by material on the internet and act as a remedy for those being cyber-bullied.

“Most of the Green Party caucus is supporting the harmful Digital Communications Bill caucus due to our concern for New Zealanders’ rights to personal security and the right to be safe from cyber-bullying,” Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today.

“This legislation has received strong support from organisations such as the Human Rights Commission.

“However, there have been strong submissions from media organisations who are concerned that this legislation may have a chilling effect upon freedom of speech.

“Four Green Party MPs will be opposing the final reading of this legislation. Gareth Hughes, Russel Norman, Julie Anne Genter and Steffan Browning have concerns about the possibility this legislation impact on New Zealanders and their right to freedom of speech.

“While a relatively rare occurrence there is provision for split voting in the Green Party caucus on various pieces of legislation….

Update:

87 comments on “Greens allow split vote on online speech bill ”

  1. mickysavage 1

    Good on them. The bill is full of fishhooks and I am certain there will be a whole lot of unintended consequences.

  2. Charles 2

    I’d agree with Gareth Hughes. If it becomes law it would force me to get creative. Don’t make me get creative. You won’t like me when I’m creative.

  3. Sable 3

    Good to see some Green MP’s saying no but disturbed that other members of the party support this veiled attempt at stifling freedom of speech. Not sure I’ll be voting for them again after this but but then are are all happy to play along so maybe I’ll just not bother in future….

  4. Kiwiri 4

    Interesting that the Greens allow split vote and, with the red team, does anyone know if that is ever possible?

    • Tracey 4.1

      It never used to be. Marilyn waring said having to vote on party lines at all times is one reason she joined the National Party. I understood that changed in the Labour Party about 20 years ago? Or more?

  5. Clean_power 5

    Mr Hughes (Greens) and Mr Seymour (ACT) are on the right side of the ledger. Good on them.

    • Kiwiri 5.1

      ACT .. ho ho ho.

      ACT can afford to take that position because Nats will have the numbers for many MPs who are supposed to be in opposition, like NZ First, Labour and many of the Greens.

      If Nats haven’t got the numbers in the House, you can bet your last dollar that they will put a quick word to ACT and ACT will play compliant puppet.

  6. While I support more split votes, I am pretty curious as to why the remaining MPs are supporting the bill- will have to check in on that! 🙂 I expect it’s probably a split on the goal of the bill being commendable vs the freedom of speech consequences. (I’m pretty sure ALL parties on the left are supportive of what the bill’s trying to do, and like some of the provisions for instance preventing revenge porn)

    • The Greens normal approach to badly drafted legislation is to fully document their dissent in committee, explicitly state why they cannot vote for it during the third reading, and then vote against.

      I’ve not seen them vote no for reasons of political expediency or tribal affiliation. It’s one of the reasons I became a Green party member.

      That said, and having read the bill (v. 168.3; Post committee, 23 June 2015), I’m expecting any and all Green MP’s that vote for this to explain their reasoning.

      • weka 6.1.1

        Thanks Matthew and Naturesong. I’m also disappointed about the Greens who voted yes, and would welcome any explanation you can find out.

        • Naturesong 6.1.1.1

          I imagine Metiria Turei will say something. I’m prepared to stomach it if a compelling argument can be presented. So far I’ve not seen one.

          I’m also interested in Kennedy Grahams reasoning as well. He’s usually very thorough.

          So I’ll wait for a bit. Then email them and ask.

          Oh, and I haven’t read the comittee hansard yet. Hadn’t really been that keen. So it’s probably in there and I’m just too lazy to look.
          I want #shorterHDCBcommittee.

          Disclaimer; I have no inside greens knowledge. I’m a member only, have volunteered a couple of times and my attendance to local meetings and events is best described as somewhere between rare and occasional.

          • Tracey 6.1.1.1.1

            But gut is telling me they want something to stop cyber bullying and this is the best they would get.

            I wish the legislation were retrospective, then Ms Collins could be one of the test case for the police…

            • Naturesong 6.1.1.1.1.1

              I am hoping that when Green MP’s voted for this they have set up the processes to initiate a campaign to target MP’s who bully citizens and journalists.

              While I would like to see the Greens use this flawed piece of legislation as a club to beat the worst offenders in Parliament (Collins, Tolley, Bennett …. hmm, why are female National MP’s the worst offenders here? (Or their behaviour in this regard gets more coverage?)

              The males tend toward schoolboy behaviour, insults and “banality of evil” type stuff. Whereas the women tend to get really personal and nasty.
              Do they feel the need to overachieve within the National Caucus culture?
              To prove themselves to the puffed up peacocks?

              • While I would like to see the Greens use this flawed piece of legislation as a club to beat the worst offenders in Parliament (Collins, Tolley, Bennett …. hmm, why are female National MPs the worst offenders here? (Or their behaviour in this regard gets more coverage?)

                … the culture within the caucus would likely prevent this sort of targeted approach to attacking individual MP’s no matter how richly they deserved it. (It’s all about the policy)

                This is laudable behaviour, and they are right to act in this way – they are MP’s representing a constituency.
                But the baser part of my nature does wish so see the worst offenders hoisted by their own petard.

              • Tracey

                that would be very cool but Ms Collins seems to have learned not to be directly in the line of fire…

      • Tracey 6.1.2

        “”Most of the Green Party caucus is supporting the Harmful Digital Communications Bill due to our concern for New Zealanders’ rights to personal security and the right to be safe from cyber-bullying,” co-leader Metiria Turei said

        “This legislation has received strong support from organisations such as the Human Rights Commission. However, there have been strong submissions from media organisations who are concerned that this legislation may have a chilling effect upon freedom of speech.” herald this morning

  7. Sylvia 7

    Russel Norman is a cool dude! He understands balance, logic, practicality and common sense! He seems to have an excellent mind! He ‘should’ be Prime Minister!

    In a ‘fair’ world he would be!

    • Stuart Munro 7.1

      By fair you mean meritocratic. In a meritocratic world half of the Gnats would be in prison and the other half in remedial education.

      • mary_a 7.1.1

        Spot on there Stuart 🙂

      • Gosman 7.1.2

        Yes you lefties are so very clever. So clever that you can’t be bothered to actually use your collective brain power to develop independent left wing alternatives to all those institutions that right wingers control and instead whine about it like little toddlers who want a sweetie.

  8. Sylvia 8

    Well I am completely offended by Stephanie Key, I was exposed to her online grotesque soft porn photos and I was greatly upset by them, it was so disturbing to me, that she was the daughter of our Prime Minister! Her offensive conduct is therefore, I believe, a great harm to the reputation of our country!

    Being a Prime Ministers daughter, this repulsive material should not be online, and ruining the reputation of our beautiful country, and making us sick in the process!

    • BM 8.1

      Are you being facetious?

      • Sylvia 8.1.1

        Yes I am actually, but I do believe her photographs are repulsive, and I think the fact ‘she’ is in all of the photos is egotistical and narcissistic, she is truly symbolic of ‘young people’ today, obsessed with themselves, in this instagram-celebrity culture, of loving themselves! All she is doing is what everyone else is doing, hardly unique or innovative! Self-centred attention-seeking poppy pink slutty photographs is not art; the only reason Jeff Koons got anywhere was because he was basically the first to represent modern ‘porn’ as art! It was his ‘idea’ not his ‘art’ per se that made him famous! He even admits his art has ‘no meaning’!

        Nude art is fabulous, but crap nudes are not!

        She is hardly the Mona Lisa and she will never be Leonardo da Vinci, will she?

        She needs to stop taking photos and find some depth!

  9. Sylvia 9

    Anyone can say ‘anything’ is art! Art is “subjective” therefore anything can be “called” Art! Blah Blah!

    But true art is created, not through ego, but through the heart, sounds like a cliché but it is not!

    Art is not always about the end product; the whole creation process is a part of the art-piece itself! The mood you feel, the thoughts and emotions you have and the moments you encounter with yourself, when you create an art-piece, determine the final outcome, it isn’t all about technique, or new ideas etc…

    True art is when you ‘create’ in an alignment with your heart! It doesn’t matter what the art-piece is, it is where the inspiration comes from, that determines what is and what isn’t art! The artist and the art-piece are essentially ‘one’! The artist and the ‘art’ that he/she creates are as important as each other!

    • BM 9.1

      Personally, I prefer the work of artisans to artists.

    • Tracey 9.2

      “But true art is created, not through ego, but through the heart, sounds like a cliché but it is not!”

      It sounds like an opinion.

      Not wanting to further derail the thread but really? You have found some human beings who have not a drop of ego in them? Further you found this rarist of thing amongst lots of artists?

      It always puts me in mind of Phoebe in Friends trying to do a genuinely altruistic act, and when she finally thought she had achieved it, one of the friends asked her if it made her feel good. She said yes, and then realised…. not 100% altruistic.

      • Sylvia 9.2.1

        I SAID “But true art is created, not THROUGH ego, but through the heart, sounds like a cliché but it is not!”

        I didn’t say people who create art automatically don’t have an ego, I said: to create art, the ego is not the mechanism used to achieve the goal, of creating an ‘art-piece’! You go beyond that!

        READ MY POSTS FIRST BEFORE YOU COMMENT, PLEASE!

  10. emergency mike 10

    Well the good news is that Cameron Slater and Carrick Graham will be out of a job. And the National party will have to starting focusing on policy rather than dirt. Right?

    • esoteric pineapples 10.1

      That all depends on who is targeted by the new law

    • Kevin 10.2

      And Martyn Bradbury and others – left or right, doesn’t matter. Oh, and with regards to your comment – potentially at least although he wouldn’t because he’s not a whinger and can take as much as he gives – Slater could have you arrested using the Bill.

      • greywarshark 10.2.1

        So you like to be part of the sport of a war of words Kevin. It is a diversion you know from the real problem of the way our polity runs.

      • Tracey 10.2.2

        “Slater could have you arrested using the Bill”

        Lay it out for us Kevin. Quoting the Act and with evidence of alleged offending, please, I look forward to it.

        Was Ms Adams lying last night in the House?

        “Justice Minister Amy Adams has said the criminal provisions in the new law are there for only the most serious cases, and the threshold for prosecution is very high.”

        • Kevin 10.2.2.1

          I said he could he have the commenter arrested, not that the commenter would be successfully prosecuted. No doubt a judge would throw the complaint out.

          • te reo putake 10.2.2.1.1

            “I said he could he have the commenter arrested, not that the commenter would be successfully prosecuted.”

            But even that is wrong, Kevin. Slater can’t arrest anyone and the police aren’t going to arrest anyone on his say so. Dollars to donuts that the first prosecutions under this Act are going to be strong cases of harm and intended harm. Probably involving children, not a boofhead blogger.

            The prosecution are going to be keen to have the court set precedents that allow them to go after Roastbuster type cases, not ego spats between grown men.

            • Stuart Munro 10.2.2.1.1.1

              It’s funny – the police have been anything but keen to prosecute the roastbusters to date. I don’t think this act will change that.

              • True enough, but the copper’s reckoned they couldn’t be guaranteed a successful prosecution under current law, so they won’t have that excuse now.

                • Maybe its that threshhold that should be changed.

                  Instead of basing the decision to prosecute on whether or not the police believe they can win the case, maybe they should prosecute based on if they believe a crime has been comitted.

                  The former ensures that stats produced are tidy, the latter would give a truer picture.

          • Tracey 10.2.2.1.2

            Are you saying that merely by Slatr saying to the police this online material offended me, the police will get in their cars and roll out to get emergency mike arrested? Wow, would still like your roof/evidence laid out Kevin.

            Start with the police protocol for arrest and lead us through that and beyond.

            TIA

            • Kevin 10.2.2.1.2.1

              I’m saying it’s possible, we don’t know what would happen as the law is new and hasn’t been test. But as you know the person making the communication has to have intended harm and the victim must have been harmed.

              Here’s another example:

              Let’s say I do a parody ad saying that Brian Tamaki’s first sexual experience was with his mother in an outhouse. The ad is clearly labelled parody so he can’t sue for defamation. But would he be able to lay a successful complaint under the new law? If yes we no longer have the right to parody famous figures (unlike the US where the United States Supreme Court decided the opposite).

              What other rights has the new law taken away?

            • Kevin 10.2.2.1.2.2

              Another example based on real life.

              Let’s say on a blog I say that the Church of Scientology is a dangerous cult. Would the Church of Scientology be able to lay a successful complaint under the new law?

              And yes, I am avoiding stating whether or not the Church of Scientology is a dangerous cult precisely because of the new law which is what people mean by the law stifling freedom of speech.

      • Tracey 10.2.3

        Seymour stood for something last night, with clarity. Agree or not, that is something to behold

        “Justice Minister Amy Adams has said the criminal provisions in the new law are there for only the most serious cases, and the threshold for prosecution is very high.

        Children under 14 can’t be charged with cyberbullying and those aged 14 to 16 will go into the youth justice system.

        Mr Seymour told the House that the bill was a “knee jerk” reaction that was a “case study in bad law making”, that would have a chilling effect on free speech.

        He said principles in the legislation – including that sensitive personal facts should not be disclosed and communications should not be indecent – were “appropriate if we were about to embark on a school camp”, but should not be written into law.

        “It says that you cannot offend somebody. So, for instance, would the Flight of the Conchords song Albie the Racist Dragon be offensive if it was communicated online?

        “Well, we are told…that of course this law would never be used in such a silly and unsensible way. That’s the problem with this law – it gives no protection. We are supposed to rely on the beneficence of the enforcers. Mr Speaker, that is bad law making.”

        Mr Seymour said the Independent Police Conduct Authority had examined the Roast Busters case and found that it could have been dealt with under existing law.

        Loopholes could be closed by amending existing laws, he said, including extending the intimate covert filming provisions in the Crimes Act to cover “revenge porn”. Mr Seymour said other online behaviour like sexual grooming was already illegal.”

        herald 1 July 2015

        • Macro 10.2.3.1

          Yes that is a very clear and well reasoned statement from him. I agree with his stand and the other 4 who voted against this appalling legislation for similar reasons.

        • emergency mike 10.2.3.2

          Makes total sense. Of course, it’s very easy to be the token voice of reason when you know your vote won’t change anything. Smells a bit like an easy chance to push the illusion that ACT is separate from NACT. John Key spoke eloquently about principles of democracy when in opposition, now he ‘operates within the law’. If the vote was close I’m betting he’s be singing a different song.

          Still, Labour, NZ First, and most of the Greens didn’t oppose it. Not sure what their fucking excuse is.

      • emergency mike 10.2.4

        @Kevin. I guess by your logic Martyn Bradbury could have you arrested for your comment. Or I could. And because I’ve said that you could have me arrested. Sounds a bit ridiculous, so I suppose you must find this new Bill just as stupid as I do.

        But nice effort trying to equate Bradbury with Slater and Graham. Bradbury might be a bit of a dick sometimes, but he’s not a dirty amoral sleaze like those two. There is no left equivalent of WO or the DP crew. Hager’s book was about National party slime. Maybe you and John Banks could team up and write a book about that vast leftie organized conspiracy theory that poor John Key was going on about after Dirty Politics came out. There’s a gap in the market there because, oddly, nothing like that exists.

        Plus you lost me at “[Slater is] not a whinger.” Every time is pretty face is on TV all he does is cry about how he’s not going to play because he’s not treated fairly and he’s the victim and wah wah wah.

        • Kevin 10.2.4.1

          “Sounds a bit ridiculous, so I suppose you must find this new Bill just as stupid as I do.”

          Yes, I do, and it is ridiculous.

          “Maybe you and John Banks could team up and write a book about that vast leftie organized conspiracy theory that poor John Key was going on about after Dirty Politics came out.”

          Yeah, nah. I’m not into conspiracy theories. And with regards to Hagar’s book – big yawn. Politics is dirty. If John Key could use a popular blog to attack his opponents then good on him. I would have in his position. The thing that got me about Dirty Politics is that he Hagar used stolen information.

          I wonder would have happened if Dirty Politics had been published after the new law?

          • emergency mike 10.2.4.1.1

            According to DP Katherine Rich was sitting on health committees while paying Graham to attack health professionals with personal dirt. Big yawn? Did you read it? Whatever, who cares, have some more sugar.

          • Tracey 10.2.4.1.2

            the book was… a book… so not online

    • Tracey 10.3

      except by now the evidence of past deeds is gone… but wait…. the police seized Hager’s computer the bullying evidence is there… I am sure they are drafting the papers for when the Act takes effect

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    I am reminded of the Ming’s Wedding scene from Flash Gordon

    A rocket flies past with a banner “all citizens will rejoice” no response…
    A second rocket banner reads “on pain of death” the crowd goes wild.

    I hate and despise this cruel and incompetent government, and I will call the treacherous weasel John Key anything I choose. If he tries to throw me in prison he’ll live to regret it.

    If he wants my good opinion all he needs to do is get off his useless bottom and do his job. His job is not stealing our assets, but representing us and working in our interests. Democracy is quite easy really – only crooks could get it so wrong.

  12. So, there’s a total of four Green MPs who aren’t crap and zero Labour MPs who aren’t crap. I think it’s time to join the “missing million.”

  13. Puckish Rogue 13

    What kind of world is it when Cameron Slater, Martyn Bradbury, David Farrar and Gareth Hughes all agree…

  14. plumington 14

    2 years prison and up to a $50000 fine for children bullies ? I wonder who this legislation is really aimed for?

    • Sylvia 14.1

      The law is so open to interpretation, there are heaps of ways investigate journalists can produce their works; there are loopholes, just got to be a little more creative with the writing!

      And if the government want to prosecute a journalist, it will give the journalist more ‘credibility’ won’t it? And media attention!

      If the government openly want to censor something, there will be a reason why?

      Basically everything the government will try to censor in the public domain will be noticed, it will allow the media and people in-general to see the government scurrying around like rabid dogs trying to fix it!

      If the government want to hide something drawing attention to it, isn’t exactly the wisest move is it?

      But the government aren’t known for their ‘wisdom’, are they?

      • Ron 14.1.1

        Unless you are a Government Cabinet Minister accused of a serious crime and suddenly it is hidden away from sight as an election is coming up, then after election it is moved down the calendar so that by the time it comes to court (if ever) it becomes moot.

        Basically everything the government will try to censor in the public domain will be noticed,

  15. Sylvia 15

    Unless you are a Government Cabinet Minister accused of a serious crime and suddenly it is hidden away from sight as an election is coming up, then after election it is moved down the calendar so that by the time it comes to court (if ever) it becomes moot.

    Basically everything the government will try to censor in the public domain will be noticed,

    Yes but the ‘information’ wasn’t out in the public domain to begin with! It was already censored! I’m talking about ‘information’ out free……………………

  16. T Chris 16

    This is what we call the Greens having their cake and eating it too.

    Sucking up to all sides

    • Colonial Rawshark 16.1

      Only a true cynic who did not believe in the value of Parliamentary democracy or conscience votes would make such a statement.

    • Tracey 16.2

      as opposed to the Labour and Nat MPs marching in unison to their own self interest… to be lauded of course by you

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