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No free speech at convention centre

Written By: - Date published: 8:30 am, July 19th, 2013 - 51 comments
Categories: activism, blogs, democracy under attack, national - Tags: , , ,

National’s dirty deal gets worse and worse – see this Green press release:

National’s veto power makes SkyCity deal dirtier

SkyCity deal documents show how the National Government ignored warnings about the damage its dirty deal with SkyCity would do and instead, focused on getting itself the power to block groups it doesn’t like from using the convention centre, Green Party gambling spokesperson Denise Roche said today.

Documents released yesterday reveal how SkyCity and the Government wrangled over what kind of right the Crown would have to block events that it didn’t like from being held at the New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC). The final agreement gives the Government a veto right over events at the NZICC that it considers could be “materially prejudicial” to New Zealand’s international relations or national security or the NZICC’s brand, or are simply deemed not to be of a suitable “type and style” for the NZICC.

“The records of the negotiations show that National didn’t care about inflicting gambling harm on thousands of New Zealand families as a result of its dirty deal, but it put a lot of effort into making sure it can ban groups it doesn’t like from using the convention centre,” said Ms Roche.

“The New Zealand International Convention Centre must be open to all people to hold events, not just those in favour with the government of the day.

“What groups will the National Government consider “unsuitable” for the convention centre? Would anti-Trans-Pacific Partnership groups be banned from holding meetings there for the crime of opposing National’s trade agenda? Would National block a figure like the Dalai Lama from giving a speech at our country’s premier convention centre so as not to offend China?

“The right to veto events that the National Government decides aren’t ‘suitable’ or good for the convention centre’s ‘brand’ is very broad and open to abuse. Will opponents of the National Government find that they are not welcome at what is supposed to be our national convention centre? …

“These revelations add further weight to Treasury’s warning that the SkyCity deal isn’t in the public interest. It’s clear that SkyCity was focused on its own profit interests and the National Government was focused on its political interests. The interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders simply didn’t enter into their consideration,” said Ms Roche. …

For more on this, check out the (usually mild-mannered) Russell Brown in this strongly worded piece:

A different kind of country

The government’s convention centre deal with SkyCity has been giving off a bad smell for a long time now. The contents of the deputy auditor general’s report on the process were enough for the usually conservative John Armstrong to declare the government’s “shonky” selection of Sky City’s bid as “verging on banana republic kind of stuff without the bananas.” Turns out, it’s worse than that.

Yesterday’s document dump revealed that the Ministry of Economic Development, negotiating last year on the government’s behalf, wanted a government veto on the hiring out of the planned conference centre “to avoid having protest groups hiring the NZICC at the same time as a government event.” …

So the government has reserved a right to curb speech it finds inconvenient by making an agreement that allows it to control the use of a commercial facility. Worse, it has achieved that right by trading it against concessions running in favour of Sky City – concessions it has made on our behalf, and over the concerns of Treasury. The government traded away the public interest in pursuit of a curb on public expression. It’s really creepy. …

Taken as a part with John Key’s dimissive (and deceptive and bullying) swatting away of concerns about the GCSB bill from the Human Rights Commission – and the Privacy Commsssioner and the Law Society – this latest insult makes it feel even more as if New Zealand is turning into a different sort of country. And not a good sort. Singapore without the duty of care? Certainly a country that has begun to move away from basic norms of free speech. …

Brown also gives the right-wing commentators a serve for their partisan silence on these issues, noting in passing that Farrar has deleted images of his “Free Speech Coalition” billboards (comparing the last Labour-led government to various dictators) from his blog – you can still find them here.

Free speech. Use it or lose it.


51 comments on “No free speech at convention centre”

  1. Blue Leopard 1

    …so when Key and his mates were in opposition bleating on about “Nanny State” their criticism was actually that Helen and co were not going far enough with it…should have been more Gulag

    • Paul 1.1

      And the Herald proclaimed ‘Democracy under attack.’
      Now we know the editors of the Herald are actually agencies and facilitators for the dismantling of democracy in NZ.

  2. paul andersen 2

    I predict the convention centre will be a huge white elephant that struggles to attract business, and the hireage rates will tumble, therefore skycity will moan about running costs, and constantly be coming back to the government for top-ups. win-win< I think not. the best thing to do would be for all the beggers in auckland to congregate outside it every time it is used, send a message that is hard to ignore.

    • Colonial Viper 2.1

      The NATs will chuck every Auckland government tax payer funded event they can at the Convention Centre, at premium rates as well.

      • Tigger 2.1.1

        Including smaller ones that would have gone to venues out of Auckland…

      • muzza 2.1.2

        Yes, it is certain that the majority of local/central govt events, will be hosted at the new convention center, at premium rates!

        • Akldnut

          An international conference on “the dangers of deep sea drilling & suitability of govt protections against spillage” – that would get right up their noses or an “International Labour Party conference”. lol

    • ghostwhowalksnz 2.2

      There will be a range of convention sizes from 50 to 2500.

      It will be in use every day, but the biggest spaces not so much

    • David H 2.3

      I read somewhere that the conference/ convention people are now staying close to home, as it costs way too much to bring all the people down here on an all expenses paid junket. And the forecast is for even more hard times for these centers, and some think it madness to waste this much money on a financial hole in the ground.

  3. Rosetinted 3

    paul andersen
    This won’t happen. You are quite wrong and don’t understand the figures or the business.
    Blah blah. That is the only response that politicians will give you. Because they don ‘t give a f..k – no-one can touch them for shithouse running of the country and maladministration of our economy. They used to shoot corrupt people in China. Here we whitewash them and give them knighthoods.

    Putin can teach Key a few tricks. We seem to be following the USA which is adopting methods that would once have been regarded as solely belonging to those awful commies. Putin has brought a fraud case against an opposition contender for Mayor of Moscow who was daring to put up his hand as a future President. The man has been found guilty and is now ineligible for political appointment. What dirt can be dug on Shearer I wonder?

  4. felix 4

    I’d forgotten how keen David Farrar used to be on the Human Rights Commission: http://img.scoop.co.nz/stories/images/0712/a634bc2dd4ea7dcedc21.jpeg

    Has he had anything to say about the HRC on the GCSB bill?

    Is that when he deleted the images from his memory?

    • Rosetinted 4.1

      Are you implying that David Farrar is a built machine, with just a human form in a skin envelope? Futurama had that as a theme in the program I watched last night. Fits.

  5. Wayne (a different one) 5

    Fantastic deal by National – more jobs and wealth for the country!

    Why would anyone want to knock that – got me beat!

  6. Mary 6

    John Key is pure evil. An absolute dictator. If he and his rich mates get in next year we need to take to the streets!

    • James 6.1

      So you would take to the streets to protest a democratically elected leader?

      Yep _ typical leftie.

      • Mary 6.1.1

        yes take to the streets, Keys is not my Prime Minister. He should not be PM. He and his rich mates are selling off the country. Uprise against Keys and his evil rich mates

        • Bob

          Chicken Little, the sky is falling!

          • Akldnut

            And we must tell the King.

            Wait…………… we’ve been doing that for years now but Shonkey just aint listening.

          • blue leopard

            Um, no I don’t believe that is what Mary is concerned about there Bob, I believe she is concerned that this country is being “sold off”. This might be meant figuratively or literally. Perhaps you might try a little harder to understand a comment before responding to it.

        • James

          If you live in NZ and a NZ citizen – then yep he is your PM. Thought even the slowest of the slow would have picked up on that by now. Looking at the latest polls – you better start getting used to it.

          But again – if he wins – taking to the streets to say that the guy that less people voted for should be PM because you like him better is, well, stupid.

          • North

            Facile James. Who believes that democracy is a triennial physical ritual and leave it at that.

      • framu 6.1.2

        have you got a problem with protest james?

        typical authoritarian

  7. captain hook 7

    the whole country has gone crazy. and they wont be able to use exotic timber from the Solomon Islands because there isn’t any left!
    Its all fucking gone!

  8. tsmithfield 8

    There isn’t actually free speech in NZ now.

    From the link:

    New Zealand prohibits hate speech under the Human Rights Act 1993. Section 61 (Racial Disharmony) makes it unlawful to publish or distribute “threatening, abusive, or insulting…matter or words likely to excite hostility against or bring into contempt any group of persons…on the ground of the colour, race, or ethnic or national or ethnic origins of that group of persons.” Section 131 (Inciting Racial Disharmony) lists offences for which “racial disharmony” creates liability.

    So, perhaps the government wants to be able to ban people from using the facility that might use it as a platform for hate-speech. I’m sure an international KKK convention wouldn’t be welcomed by many on this site, or most other sites.

    This is the thin end of the wedge problem. Once free speech is restricted in one context, then justification can be found for restricting it in other contexts as well.

    • McFlock 8.1

      No, it’s not a problem. Because as you pointed out, hate speech is already restricted (as are othertypes of speech injurious to the public good).

      Your KKK convention would not have happened, for the simple reason that those attendees who could pass the visa and border checks already in place would not already be prohibited from saying things that are illegal.

      This is not about hate-speech – this is about restricting people and events who aren’t of the right “type and style”. Rich tory tax-dodging seminars would (no doubt) be acceptable. A NORML convention? Maybe not.

    • felix 8.2

      I think they just want to be able to stop people from using the convention centre to set fire to nuns.

      tsmithfield, I’d like to hear your opinion on this. If you doubt I’m right, please explain why.

      • McFlock 8.2.1

        Labour spent NINE YEARS doing NOTHING about nun immolation! Labour are SOFT on nun burning!

  9. chrissy 9

    Hate speech is used by key every time he is in Parliament .He goes on and on abusing Shearer while the speaker is whispering order! order I say! Sorry mate can’t hear you.
    I was watching key one day when he was doing one of his highly embarrassing rants against Shearer and the look on his face was absolute hatred. I think he has a pathological hatred for Shearer because he does have a good backstory, he has been recognised for the job that he did which DID consist of acts of bravery. He is everything that key is not.
    key is just a little woofter looking for the main chance and never mind who gets in the way.I don’t see big write ups on how he made his millions in any of the magazines. Now that would be interesting.
    I think that if Shearer just ignored every one else’s opinions and so forth and just concentrated on how he and the party would do things then he would do very well.

  10. big bruv 10

    Oh the irony!…….Left wingers moaning about non existent attacks on free speech.

    Where were you people when Helen Clark made speaking out against the corrupt Labour government a crime?

    • Draco T Bastard 10.1

      …when Helen Clark made speaking out against the corrupt Labour government a crime?

      Never happened except in your delusional mind.

      • big bruv 10.1.1


        I am genuinely amazed at your carefully selective memory.

        You know that is what happened, you know that Clark made free speech illegal. It so annoyed the public that they voted her and her equally corrupt government out of power.

        There is no doubt about it, 2008 was indeed a great year. To see the back of such a corrupt and evil PM and the usual bad grace in which she took her total rejection is one of the happiest days of my life. That election night proved that good can overcome evil.

        • Anne

          You just made that up in your head bb. There’s a medical term for that sort of thing.

        • Draco T Bastard

          You know that is what happened, you know that Clark made free speech illegal.

          Well then, you shouldn’t have any difficulty pointing to the legislation that was passed that made free-speech illegal.

          • QoT

            Geez, Draco, obviously they *also* passed legislation to cover up the legislation. And then more legislation to send anyone who mentioned that legislation to the gulags.

        • North

          See a doctor BB Loony……..a specialist in shit-from-mouth.

    • Daveosaurus 10.2

      They were probably back in “the real world”, in which Clark did no such thing.

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