PM Jacinda Ardern: Molyneux and Southern’s views not welcome in NZ

By @chelean on
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, carrying her newborn baby Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, poses with her partner Clarke Gayford for a photo, in New Zealand, August 1, 2018.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, carrying her newborn baby Neve Te Aroha Ardern Gayford, poses with her partner Clarke Gayford for a photo, in New Zealand, August 1, 2018. Picture taken August 1, 2018. Derek Henderson/New Zealand Prime Minister’s Office/Handout via Reuters

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has refuted the claim by right-wing activists Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern that the country was “hostile to free speech.” The controversial Canadians have had their speaking engagement cancelled after their venue had pulled out at the last minute.

Molyneux and Southern were supposed to do a show in Auckland on Friday, but venue Powerstation cancelled the event on the same day. Ardern, who has just come back from her maternity leave, was then asked to comment on Molyneux’s claim that New Zealand was hostile to free speech on Saturday.

“I think we’re hostile to their views,” she said, rebuffing the alleged alt-right activist’s claim after the venue cancelled on them. “They’re here because there were no grounds to block them being here. But that does not mean we welcome their views.”

Ardern added, “I think you’ll see from the reaction that they have had from New Zealanders that their views are not those that are shared by this country and I’m quite proud of that.”

Molyneux and Southern were granted visas to enter the country, but Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway wanted to make it clear that that didn’t mean they were endorsing the pair’s ultraconservative views.

“INZ’s decision in no way condones the views expressed by the pair, which are repugnant to this Government and run counter to the kind and tolerant values of the vast majority of New Zealanders,” he said. “I understand that many people would prefer it if Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux never set foot in New Zealand. However, the Immigration Act and immigration instructions have clear criteria for the granting of a visa, including certain character requirements, all of which I have been advised the pair meet.”

Powerstation owner Gabrielle Mullins has apologised for booking Molyneux and Southern in the first place. “The minute I heard who it was, I cancelled,” she was quoted by Stuff as saying. “I understand it’s all about freedom of speech, but it’s the content of the freedom of speech that I found offensive.”

Last month, the Australian government denied Southern a visa to enter the country. She applied for an Australian Electronic Travel (ETA) visa, but the Visa Bureau said she was not eligible for the service. She was instead advised to apply for a Visitor Visa (Subclass 600). She was ultimately able to proceed with her speaking engagements in the country.

In one of the duo’s events in Sydney, SBS freelance writer Simon Copland tweeted the “epic racist stuff” Molyneux and Southern told their sold-out audience. Some of their comments painted a dehumanising depiction of Indigenous Australians, with Molyneux saying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people sat at “the lowest rung of civilisation.”