Future for Local Government Review embraces censorship by moderating 1 in 11 non-form submissions from publication
OIAs responses released to the Free Speech Union reveal over 9.5% of unique submissions to the Review into the Future for Local Government were moderated and excluded from publication. Despite its great encouragement to trust the public to participate in democratic processes, the Review into the Future for Local Government doesn’t trust the public itself, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
“Of the 608 unique submissions on the Review’s draft report made available for publication, 58 submissions were not published because they violated the Review’s moderation policy. Ambiguous definitions like 'offensive language', 'offends cultural values', 'insulting', 'misinformation', and 'accusation towards group' were used to exclude these submissions.
“Crucially, all moderated submissions opposed the recommendations of the Review, particularly on issues of co-governance, which was a large focus of the report. Moderating submissions in such a partisan way skews the perception of the public’s view on these issues as expressed through the consultation and submissions process.
“The Review appears more than happy to set themselves up as the arbiter of truth and decorum when it comes to issues of local government. But it is the public that must have this role. The Review made many claims regarding the need to trust the public in democratic participation, but they clearly seem willing to put their own fingers on the scales when this participation doesn’t go their way.
“Kiwis voices must be heard, and their role in our democracy respected. Government entities are increasingly willing to suppress the public's voice in democratic processes. This is of major concern and fundamentally undermines the purpose of public consultations.”
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