The Government, which cannot define racism, has demonstrated its adeptness at creating it.
Today, the Department of Internal Affairs has released a proposal for a new way to regulate social media and traditional media platforms.
This discussion document offers a solution that "introduces more robust consumer protection measures to safeguard New Zealanders while preserving the freedoms we currently enjoy."
Isn't it Ronald Reagan who famously described the most terrifying words in the English language? "I'm from the Government, and I'm here to help!"
The proposal aims to establish a new industry regulatory body independent from the Government that will control what can and cannot be discussed online. Yes, you read that right. Because, of course, nothing solves a problem better than adding another layer of bureaucracy.
This 90-page discussion document, accompanied by the executive summary and Fact sheet, outlines lofty ideals about safeguarding New Zealanders from undesirable content on media and online platforms. It’s reasonable to ask, why are we being encouraged to be afraid of things online?
Within the report, statistics indicate that a net survey found 16% of Asian participants experienced online hate speech at least once in the past year. There was no separate statistic for Maori but the combined statistics with Pasifika totalled 13%, while NZ European or "Pakeha" accounted for 9%.
Oddly enough, while this statistic is mentioned, no other ethnic groups are individually identified in the report as warranting separate consideration. However, Maori are given elevated status in a co-governing role within the regulatory body. Even Pasifika, despite being mentioned to prop up the statistic, is overlooked when proposing a solution.
But there is more appalling information about this proposal….
- The regulator will be responsible for fulfilling the government's Treaty of Waitangi obligations. Despite the lack of clarity surrounding the Treaty's principles, we now have equally ambiguous "obligations." This necessitates Maori involvement in the development and approval of codes of practice by platforms and industries.
- The regulator may also impose requirements for engagement with Maori during the development of codes of practice.
- Maori representation will be built into the regulatory system. This would require Maori representation and influence to be present in all stages of platform regulation.
- The regulator will be required to have in-house te ao Maori capacity/capability.
- Iwi and Maori will be involved in the governance of the regulator, and will have significant input in developing the codes of practice.
- It is suggested codes of practice could set minimum standards for Maori cultural competency and restore ‘mana’ through the complaints process.
- Maori are granted protections to "express themselves freely," a privilege not given to any other New Zealander.
- Interventions provide a passing nod to the social and cultural needs of all New Zealanders but then specify a need to be consistent with Treaty obligations as well as recognise and respect te ao Maori and Tikanga.
Yes, this is a discussion document seeking submissions. So why should we be alarmed?
Remember, over 80,000 submissions were opposed to Three Waters, yet the Minister dismissed them because they expressed similar concerns, and the legislation was passed.
We need to make sure our submissions cannot be ignored by sending a strong message that we will not allow our democracy to be further destroyed.
Make no mistake, this proposal will place Maori at the heart of the decisions about what New Zealanders are allowed to say.
Which Maori gets to make these rules? David Seymour, Winston Peters, me?
Or will it be Tuku Morgan, John Tamihere, or Rawiri Waititi, who, just the other day, called all non-Maori New Zealanders who did not speak Maori "dumb"?
As it stands, this proposal threatens to stop Hobson’s Pledge mission to protect equality before the law. We would be a platform that could be silenced. This is deeply upsetting.
This warrants a public outcry... Can you help me?
We cannot let this Government pull another fast one. But this seems to be their modus operandi: create terrible policies and regulations while everyone is preoccupied trying to put food on the table, heating their homes, and fuel their cars.
This was announced today, and we have until July 31, 2023. Watch this space, as we are rolling up our sleeves and preparing to fight back.