Government’s new centre to control Kiwis’ speech

Kiwis have come to take ‘freedom of speech’ for granted, surely it’s a central tenet of our democracy? Perhaps not anymore. Below is a very important message regarding the Government’s efforts to muzzle our freedom of speech, written by our friend David Farrar, author of Kiwiblog and principal of Curia Market Research Ltd. David is writing here on behalf of the Free Speech Union …

I’m writing to ask for your support to fight back against the Government’s latest push intended to limit Kiwis’ speech – and as you’ll see below, the Government has no shame in who it is putting in charge.

On Friday, the Prime Minister announced the Directors for her new Centre of Research Excellence for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism, a Government entity reporting to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet that will “focus on understanding diversity and promoting social cohesion”.

One of the key people the Prime Minister has appointed to run the new Centre is Prof Joanna Kidman of Victoria University.

You might have heard of Prof Kidman. She is a vocal campaigner against what she calls messages of “hate” and regularly attacks people online for daring to have controversial or conservative views. She’s even thrown many an ‘extremist’ barb at your humble Free Speech Union because of our work on promoting academic freedom and free speech at universities.

Initiatives like this barely have a fig leaf covering for what they really are: government overreach trying to push an ideological agenda that actually undermines social cohesion and threatens minorities.

The reference to violent extremism in the new Centre’s name is a red herring: Kidman’s background is in “indigenous sociology, Māori youth, higher education, decolonisation studies and comparative education”.

At the announcement of the Centre, Prof Kidman claimed that “in our own communities we’ve seen the rise of groups that carry messages of hate and destruction”.

So what does Prof Kidman consider “hate and destruction”? Well, here she is responding to a historian she disagrees with:


That’s right, among the people running this powerful new “anti- extremist” body are the very people who use their positions of power to bully political dissenters.

Prof Kidman once even tried to cancel fashion designer Trelise Cooper, accusing her of “colonial violence in floral polyester” after she named one of her dresses “Trail of Tiers” – you can’t make this stuff up.

This hand-picked appointment for a nebulous research centre is just the start of a propaganda arm that will select Government-backed “experts” to stand on the news telling us why it’s “safer” to restrict speech, all in the name of “social cohesion”. This is straight out of Orwell’s Ministry of Truth.

As left-wing blogger Martyn Bradbury has written:

“This academic research unit will advise the Government on how to clamp down on our free speech and restrict our civil liberties for the implementation of woke doctrine. It is half social engineering and half Identity Politics Stasi.”

Who in their right mind would believe that Joanna Kidman is going to make sound judgements about countering extremist thought? This appointment confirms the government is not interested in social cohesion at all. Aside from her opposition to the speech rights of those she disagrees with, Prof Kidman has made no contribution to counter extremism at all. She is a completely inappropriate appointment for this role – and if the media were actually doing their jobs, everyone would know it.

Will you support us to mount a pushback to expose Professor Kidman’s behaviour for what it is and show the public how concerns about extremism are being misused by the Government to control legitimate speech?

This ‘expert’ was even part of the Listener 7 pile-on

Prof Kidman was one of the signatures on the open letter that attacked the Listener 7 – the academics who penned the “In Defence of Science” piece which claimed that while indigenous knowledge (Mātauranga Māori) is important it “falls far short of what can be defined as science itself”.

For their involvement in the Listener letter, Professors Garth Cooper and Robert Nola (among others) were harassed for months.

We need to ensure that ‘tolerance’ in our public institutions isn’t just to those who toe the woke, politically correct lines. That’s why I’m asking for your support.

We say everyone has a right to voice their perspective, but those who try to silence others and tear down their rights to free speech should not receive public money, let alone be appointed to decide what counts as “social cohesion” and advise the government on laws which would restrict free speech.

New Zealanders need someone in the free speech corner fighting against Jacinda Ardern’s ideological appointments that will see our speech rights eroded. But we can’t save free speech if we can’t keep the lights on!

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