Pages tagged "LGNZ"

  • Local Government Council's Candidates Report

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  • Truly Tolerant Campaigning Guidelines

    Last week, Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ), in association with Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon, released their Inclusive Campaigning Guidelines— a series of recommendations on how local government candidates are expected to conduct themselves during upcoming local elections.

    On its surface, it would appear to carry good intentions, promoting principles such as inclusion, diversity and respectful debate. However, under closer scrutiny the façade crumbles and the guidelines reveal themselves for what they really are: an attempt to suppress debate around crucial issues.

    The Free Speech Union doesn’t doubt that this year’s local elections could prove divisive; many transformational policies have been put on the table. But the idea any controversy can be mitigated by censorship would be laughable if it didn’t point to an alarming trend that can only undermine democracy.

    In a message that kicks off the guidelines, LGNZ chief executive Susan Freeman-Green is open that her goal is to “shift what’s acceptable” in local government debate, as if it is those in power who should set the agenda, not voters. Who gifted Freeman-Green this right, exactly?

    As soon as power stops taking their lead from the people, we no longer have a democracy.

    The author’s partisan motives are barely veiled too. The guidelines call out the framing of debates around Māori wards and Three Waters as “racist and derogatory”. We would agree that there has been some unfortunate commentary, but in a recent interview Foon asserted that opposition to Māori wards and co-governance was “saying Māori shouldn’t be participating in anything, that they should be subservient” and that “Māori should not be participating in the decision-making of Aotearoa”. This is to classify all opposition to the policies as racist, which is not only untrue, it is counterproductive.

    In the same interview Foon added “any candidates that actually in my view fall out of line — they will be held to account”. Does this mean that any candidate who disagrees with Foon on these policy questions could soon be forced to weather a smear campaign?

    In response to these actions which undermine democracy, we have put together our own set of guidelines which we are calling the Truly Tolerant Campaigning Guidelines, in the hope candidates are encouraged to be themselves on the campaign trial, and to show leadership rather than running for cover from even the most divisive debates.

  • Free Speech Union Releases Local Council Election Guidelines For Tolerant Debate

    19 September 2022


    Free Speech Union Releases Local Council Election Guidelines For Tolerant Debate

    In response to the release of Inclusive Campaigning Guidelines by LGNZ and the Race Relations Commissioner, the Free Speech Union has created its own Truly Tolerant Campaign Guidelines to push back against attempts to control the debate and agenda of this year’s local government elections, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union.

    “The Free Speech Union believes strongly that political candidates must have the freedom to express their ideas and policies as they see fit, and that the only arbiters of the acceptability of their speech are voters at the ballot box. It is vitally important that candidates can show their true selves.

    “In their guidelines, LGNZ Chief Executive Susan Freeman-Greene makes clear her goal of “shifting what’s acceptable”, a task that should be reserved for voters, not bureaucrats. Likewise, in an interview subsequent to releasing the Guidelines, Meng Foon implied that anyone opposing policies related to co-governance and Māori wards was racist. These examples show Freeman-Greene and Foon are putting their fingers on the scale of democracy by policing how local government candidates should engage with New Zealanders and debate these issues

    “The Truly Tolerant Campaigning Guidelines reflect our attitude to democracy and the freedom of candidates to express themselves freely. Our guidelines assert such principles as proposed government policy never being a “no-go zone”, and encouraging political candidates to engage even with those whom they find unsavoury.

    “We agree with LGNZ and Meng Foon that respect is important in political debate and that when discussing issues, the focus should be on the ideas and not the characteristics of those proposing them. What we won't enforce, however, are our own opinions of what “respectability” means.

    "We have provided Council candidates across the country with these guidelines, and a questionnaire on their positions related to free speech. We will use this to create a report for the 75,000 Free Speech Union supporters around the country to use when voting.

    “In these elections, we call upon candidates and voters to take a stand for free speech as a principle critical to the healthy functioning of our democracy. Candidates deserve to show their true selves and voters deserve to know them. We achieve this through open dialogue and free speech.”

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