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Government targets free speech, Fairfax target Opposition

August 18, 2012

Just another sad week in our broken democracy.

As Government ministers continue the trend of gross privacy breaches to intimidate citizens who oppose them, New Zealand’s biggest “news” outlet was busy distracting readers with yet another half-baked story about the Opposition, instead.

After a week in which Social Development Minister Paula Bennett was slapped down by the Human Rights Commission for breaching the privacy of a beneficiary who had the audacity to speak out against National’s policies, it has also emerged that Education Minister Hekia Parata has been pulling exactly the same dark tactics to intimidate opposition.

Bennett promptly responded to the Human Rights Commission’s findings by saying she would do the same thing again, and her party – including leader John Key and deputy Bill English – gave her their full support to do exactly that.  Of course, they have since stacked the Human Rights Commission with homophobic bigots and other National Party allies, so there shouldn’t be any such public telling off next time.

The concerns around Hekia Parata – voiced by secondary teachers’ union the PPTA, picked up by Labour’s Chris Hipkins, and completely avoided by Fairfax Media – relate to letters sent to the Minister opposing National’s plans to hike class sizes.  It seems that teachers who wrote to Parata in their capacity as private citizens, had replies from the Minister sent to their employing schools.  According to the PPTA, these individuals wrote to Parata as concerned citizens and did not include their occupation or employer in their letters, so it seems that the Minister must have accessed private information to determine who their employing schools were.  She has then sent letters of reply to those schools’ boards in what appears to be another clear effort to intimidate opponents of Government policy.

As if these shady and sinister attacks on free speech weren’t frightening enough, it has been revealed this week that there will be a witch hunt in the public sector to out dissenters and find the source of leaks that continue to embarass the Government.  Going to such great efforts to hide the truth from the New Zealand public shows just how much John Key’s Government are hiding from the people, and illustrates a Government who absolutely fear facts.

Worse still, while all of this creeping fascism is taking place, New Zealand’s largest news media organisation – the Gina Rinehart controlled Fairfax Media – have dutifully ignored the worst of the week’s revelations, and avoided covering the eerie implications of a widespread and sustained strategy of intimidating opponents, silencing dissent, and making skapegoats of the vulnerable.

Instead, today’s political “news” on the Prime Minister’s favourite news website – – is lead by yet another vague, unsubstantiated red herring about internal disagreements in the Labour Party, in what appears to be an extension of the National Party’s attacks on opponents. 

These are dark days for free speech and democracy in Aotearoa, and we allow ourselves to continue down this slippery slope at the peril of our hard-won rights and freedoms.

Please let Fairfax Media know that it is NOT okay to simply replace political reporting with National Party propaganda.  Boycott their publications, avoid, join our protest on facebook!/groups/fearfacts/ and tell your friends to do the same.  Kia ora.


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