“The saga surrounding Troy Bowker’s LinkedIn comments raises a simple question for Kris Faafoi and Jacinda Ardern, would he be arrested for his comments under their proposed Hate Speech law?” Asks ACT Leader David Seymour. 

“The Cabinet paper on the proposed law states that a person can be jailed for up to three years for ‘the incitement of disharmony, based on an intent to stir up, maintain or normalise hatred, through threatening, abusive, or insulting communications’ it is difficult to see how the law would not apply to Bowker’s comments

“Without the hate speech laws, a robust debate has taken place. Troy Bowker has exited his shareholding of the Hurricanes, thousands of people from sports stars to editorial writers to social media users have expressed their views on the comments. That is civil society and free speech in action.

“Ardern has so far ducked the question of whether political speech would be subject to sanction under her proposed Hate Speech law. She has said it would not, then it was pointed out political speech is included by inference. In Parliament she said it’s up to public consultation whether political speech would be subject to hate speech law.

“The Ardern Government now needs to explain, what would its Hate Speech law have added? Do they believe Mr Bowker would be a) interviewed by the police, b) prosecuted by police, c) convicted by a court and d) given a custodial sentence? It’s no good enough them saying that’s up to the courts, they’re the ones promoting hate speech laws, so how do they think it should work?

“They need to be able to say, people will want to know.

“I would also like to be clear that Troy Bowker has made a financial contribution to the ACT Party. That contribution was made long after ACT began defending free speech, and long before his recent comments.”