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Anthony Willy


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Censorship comes in many forms, some subtle and some not so but the overall effect is the same, some person, or group does not want you to exercise your freedom of choice and speech on a given topic. The reason for this is always the same – it is because in saying what you think contrary to the view of others you impinge on the personal interests of those whose views you are criticising. This in turn affects their privilege, power and in our market economy their ability to accumulate wealth. The world is awash with examples of censorship in action. Thus, in Putin’s Russia, Communist China, and North Korea where it most blatant, it is a criminal offence to criticise anything the Party says or does including the party apparatchiks at all levels. The price of doing so is often death or at least long periods of imprisonment followed by ostracism. In Western style democracies, we have become more subtle about our censorship, and it is largely confined to protection of minorities characterised by race, or sexual preference, or topics such as global warming and the protection of the environment deemed by some to be of such importance that there can be only one view all else being heresy and must be stamped out. Lurking in the background is a more recent beneficiary of censorship and that is commercial interests. It is no surprise that if you are in the business of manufacturing and erecting wind machines or solar panels you will be very attracted to the religious mania of the warmers and that anything to do with competing products such as fossil fuels are not only to be banned but that there shall be no debate about the prevailing religious dogma that they are destroying the planet. None of which is particularly surprising as the precedent has for thousands of years been set by the various deist religions, most of which are alive and well in countries like ours to this day. What is surprising is that our democratic system of government backed by a Bill of Rights which guarantees our right to freedom of speech and thought supported by two hundred years of rational thought is itself under attack.

Two recent examples signal the growth of this dangerous emerging trend, harking back as it does to the writings of Karl Marx the father of the aforementioned dictatorships. One, concerns the making of a film about global warming and the other, the intention of one party to our coalition government to legislate to end what it considers to be the growing racial division and unearned privilege emerging in our society between those who have Maori antecedence and those who do not.

As to the first: Last month a documentary was released in England called “Climate: The Movie (The Cold Truth)”. It was directed and produced by Martin Durkin, a well-regarded producer of documentaries. The theme of the movie is that the global warming mania is a “scam based on pseudoscience but also on the self-interest of government funded parasites pushing climate alarmism” The cast includes Nobel Laureat John Clauser PhD Columbia, Richard Lindzen emeritus professor of Meteorology at MIT, and Steven Koonin theoretical physicist and a Professor at NUY’s Tandon School of Engineering.

Unsurprisingly the responses to the ideas expressed in the movie have been mixed with one Dutch journalist calling it “a load of crap” (his albeit ill-informed view to which he is entitled). Others, such as one Eliot Jacobson a retired mathematics professor, however, not content with criticising the movie but want it banned from all media distribution. They succeeded in having it banned on platform Vimeo before being reinstated later, and none of the BBC platforms would run the film.

The one bright spot in this rush to censor is X, or Twitter, which since bought by Elon Musk has freely allowed the movie on his platform. What is alarming about this exercise in censorship is that it is extended to scientific scepticism which we had naively considered was the bedrock of our journey from ignorance to the knowledge- based society we thought we enjoyed.


This was one of the live, if not burning issues which surfaced in the run up to the last election. Both ACT, and New Zealand First campaigned on a platform of ending Maori racial privilege and the creeping Maorification of our multi-cultural society evidenced by such annoyances as the unnecessary faux Maori patter on our television “news” services, and the renaming of government departments and any institution which received tax-payers’ money with equally made-up Maori words. The public which barely raised a murmur, for example about the genuine use of Maori place names become tired of it and said so in a telling way at the ballot box. I have no doubt that it was this issue which got Winston over the line and was a material part of the support for ACT. Significantly National lead by Christopher Luxon, himself a Maori language student said little or nothing about this issue during the election campaign deeming it divisive and damaging to the progress which they say The National Party had made in improving Maori non-Maori relationships over the years. There can be little doubt that when the voting public was given an opportunity to vote on this, among other issues they did not accept the National Party view, resulting in the present coalition government. One would have thought that to any experienced politician this would have raised a red flag. National has not previously been in such a coalition and surely the Members of Parliament and their advisors would have taken stock and made some effort to accommodate the clearly expressed views of a large part of the electorate, and they did but in an extraordinary way. As is well known the coalition agreement between the Parties makes provision for ACT to introduce into parliament during the present sitting a bill seeking to define what are the principles (if any ) which can be drawn from the 1840 agreement between the Queen and some Maori Chiefs. What is extraordinary about the position of some in National is that whatever  may be the response of the public when the bill is referred to a select committee National will not support it further regardless of how many thousands of submissions which will undoubtedly be made in favour of the proposal or some variant of it. Being the largest party in the coalition and of course with the support of every other Party in Parliament the Bill will therefore lapse. That is either an exercise in political cynicism, or electoral stupidity. Either way if there is widespread support for the bill the voters will not forget who killed it come the next election.

Enter Christopher Finlayson.

Former National Attorney General and Minister for Treaty Settlements. Now retired from politics. A Kings Counsel with a flourishing practice in Maori litigation, including the recent abortive attempt by Ngai Tahu to monopolise fresh-water rights in a large part of the South Island. The case stand adjourned after some earlier procedural manipulation failed in the High Court. He was recently interviewed in a podcast where the question was “what is your concern about how Pakeha and Maori are feeling about the bill to define to principles of the Treaty” Mr. Finlayson’s response began in a measured way by asserting that the  meaning of the  Treaty, which he agrees is merely an agreement between the Crown and some Chiefs not between races, is something about which reasonable people can differ and can be the subject of rational debate but then goes on to say that “you cannot have a referendum on it because that would bring out of the woodwork the sort of people who abuse him” and describes the abuse he routinely receives at various times and places including “when walking along Lambton Quay.” As an aside it’s the sort of abuse that many people holding public office routinely endure. I know I did.

This is an extraordinary position to be taken by an experienced politician and one of His Majesty’s Counsel. Unequivocally he asserts that within our voting population there are those who can be entrusted with a vote on a political matter and those who cannot. This goes to the very essence of our democracy, and it matters not that what is at issue is a referendum rather than a general election. The Swiss system of government illustrates the point. Switzerland, probably the most stable democracy on the planet routinely allows for referenda on matters of public importance if a statutory threshold of voters so wishes. That is similar to what is at issue in the case of the proposed ACT referendum. If there is sufficient public interest in the matter at the select committee stage, then ACT is asking that the matter be referred to the public to decide the issue just as we did the MMP question in the 1990s. Not to allow a popularly supported referendum is naked censorship. And one must ask who are the censors and why won’t they let the public decide. As to the first point it is beyond doubt that they comprise the self- appointed intelligentsia, those with mostly useless university degrees which befit them only to brainwash the next generation of students. It is astonishing to find Mr. Finlayson prominent among their numbers. The other group (often with shared intelligentsia membership) is the Maori activists. As to the latter they have these many years been embarked on a highly successful crusade to secure for themselves as much of the wealth of the country as they can lay their hands on. The Lynch pin of this crusade is the principles which these people say can be drawn from the 1840 document. They have long since eschewed any reliance for their demands on what the document actually says given that the circumstances in which it was concluded are now so remote that it has no relevance to society as it currently exists and blind Freddie can see that is a dead end. Under the last government their quest was startlingly successful, and they had references to “treaty principles” written in to numerous public Acts of Parliament. The problem is that until defined by some Maori elder nobody can say what these principles mean, or even what they are, when they need to be applied to a specific case. For example, fresh water. What is the interface between the claimed spiritual values of some Maori tribes, vis a vis water and the needs of the civil engineering infrastructure necessary to deliver it to the citizen. The result of this running sore is deeply divisive and as mentioned was not lost on the electors at the last election.

ACT in an attempt to resolve these problems and heal the divisions which have opened up is suggesting a simple solution. Let the democratically elected parliament propose a solution and leave it to the voters to decide on the outcome. To write off those voters as some sort of red necks who don’t qualify for a say is either a calculated affront to our democratic process or mindlessly stupid. In considering the public stance of the Prime Minister in entering a coalition which amounts to “yes you can have a bill, but it is only window dressing regardless of the extent of the public interest” one can but wonder what influence Mr. Finlayson has on his former colleague in the Prime Ministers stance on this matter. Particularly as one is aware that is not necessarily the unanimous view of his caucus. If the Prime Minister persists in the Finlayson view that the public cannot be trusted with a vote on a referendum on this matter, there may well be stormy times ahead for the coalition if there is an overwhelmingly favourable response to the proposal at the select committee hearings. In that event National will lay itself open to the charge of censoring public debate and denying free speech.  ACT and probably New Zealand First  may not wish to be tarred with that brush. This would be a tragedy for our Nation given the outstanding success of the coalition government during its first one hundred days and the promising signs that further important initiatives such as the recasting of the rules governing the use of private property, and the reinstating of local body democracy are waiting in the wings. To put all this at risk to espouse the dictatorial views of Mr Finlayson, replete as he is with his conflicts of interest arising from his busy barristerial practice representing Maori interests, would be the ultimate political own goal.

As an after-thought Mr. Finlayson may be interested to know that among those persons with whom I am acquainted, and who have taken an interest in the subject of the referendum they include; engineers, lawyers, other professional people,  businesspeople and trades people. Without exception they want the opportunity to consider the ACT bill on its merits and to vote in the proposed referendum. Very crowded the woodwork which they inhabit.