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Labour sacrifices free speech for trade deal

Green Party, New Zealand

Labour sacrifices free speech for trade deal

Press Release

27 March 2007

Last night’s exclusion of an accredited journalist from a Beehive photo opportunity with the Michael Cullen and the Deputy Premier of China Zeng Peiyan, because Chinese officials thought the journalist was a “problem”, shows that the Government is so desperate for a trade deal with China that it will sacrifice free speech in New Zealand to get it, says the Green Party.

“It is simply wrong for the Labour Government to direct police to remove a press gallery accredited journalist from a media event inside our own government building because the Deputy Premier of China doesn’t like the journalist,” says Green Co-Leader and Trade Spokesperson Russel Norman.

“By excluding Nick Wang, a press gallery accredited journalist from the Capital Chinese News newspaper, the Government is sacrificing free speech in a sad and desperate attempt to win favour with the Chinese so that they will sign a trade deal with New Zealand.

“This incident is similar to the National Government’s appalling treatment of protesters during the 1999 visit of Chinese Premier Jiang Zemin, treatment which Labour condemned at the time.

“What this new episode shows is that when it comes to compromising free speech to get a trade deal with the Chinese Government, Labour and National Governments are just as bad.

“Disturbingly, this also follows attempts by the Wellington City Council to exclude Falun Gong from public events in Wellington because the Chinese Embassy doesn’t like it.

“The Government must tell the Chinese Government that when they come to New Zealand they will be exposed to dissenting views because we value freedom of speech, trade deal or no trade deal.