from the Free Speech Union

Changes proposed under Clause 15 of the Counter-Terrorism Acts (Designations and Control Orders) Amendment Bill extend the term ‘terrorist’ (and the option for ‘Control Orders,’ which remove many basic civil liberties) to those who possess ‘objectionable material’ even if the material has nothing to do with terrorism.

Terrorist charges should be for terrorist activity and content only. This Clause must be removed, says Jonathan Ayling, spokesperson for the Free Speech Union. 

‘This opens Kiwis up to persecution under terrorism legislation without having actually engaged in any terrorism-related activities of any. kind. Clause 15 of this Bill could make those who possess objectionable material (some of which is legally available overseas) subject to terrorism-related legislation.

‘Examples of objectionable material include films such as Cannibal Holocaust, The Human Centipede 2, and Fireball: Muay Thai Dunk. The video game Reservoir Dogs, based on Quentin Tarantino’s film of the same name, also has the classification of “objectionable”, as do the games Manhunt and its sequel Manhunt 2, produced by Rockstar games, the same company that made the Grand Theft Auto series. 

‘These films and video games have been widely viewed overseas; Fireball has even won an award at the Fant-Asia Film Festival for “Most Energetic Film”, yet the possession of them in New Zealand is a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison… and under this legislation, it could see those who possess it “terrorists”.  

‘It’s easy to imagine a conservative censor declaring material promoting abortion rights, for example, as advocating violence against the unborn and, therefore, objectionable. Under this Bill, such material could be part of a terrorism offense. 

‘Bizarrely, the National Party is supporting this legislation. The Opposition must insist that this overreach be removed from the Bill. 

‘The Government has an important role to keep its citizens safe. Terrorism, which is violence for political ends, is the very opposite of free speech. But extending the net so wide that those who possess celebrated material unrelated are considered ‘terrorists’ is a gross overreach. This clause has to go.’