In a matter of days the Government has reconsidered its definition of “essential media” so that it will now include those publications which meet the following criteria:
- serves a need for hard to reach rural communities, with reduced connectivity,
- and/or serves non-English speaking communities,
- and have appropriate health and safety measures to minimise the spread of COVID-19 during production and delivery.
This is a massive victory for free speech. Not only did the Government act rapidly to amend the rules, but free speech was one of the key topics of the Prime Minister’s daily media conference. She responded directly to our campaign!
The threat of judicial review proceedings was one of the factors which helped propel this issue into the forefront of the Government’s agenda. However, we are still not ruling out the possibility of proceeding. The ban still applies to the likes of The Listener, North & South and other monthly publications. It still appears the Government is accepting of ‘news’ and dissemination of information, vs the key thing a free press is for: views, analysis, and debate. With the Government having locked-down New Zealanders, surely that is more important right now than ever?
You can read our press release welcoming the PM’s change of heart here.
Before the PM’s announcement I sat down with Dane Giraud on the Free Speech Coalition Podcast to talk about the ban. You can listen to the conversation here.
We will continue to monitor how the Government implements this decision, and keep pushing to ensure the media in New Zealand are able to provide accurate and reliable information to all New Zealanders.
Thank you to all of you who responded to my email on Monday with thoughts on initiating proceedings; it is fair to say that the vast majority consider this a vital issue.
And thank you too to those who make this effort possible.
Thank you for your support.