### stuff.co.nz Last updated 10:57 13/01/2015 — Dominion Post
Erosion of democratic rights
By Dame Anne Salmond
OPINION In the wake of the shooting of cartoonists and journalists in Paris, political leaders in New Zealand have expressed shock and horror, and their support for those who uphold freedom of expression in other countries.
What about freedom of speech and thought at home, however?
Over the past decade or so, politicians seeking to uphold their own power have abused democratic freedoms in New Zealand. Journalists including Jon Stephenson (for reporting on New Zealand’s involvement in Afghanistan), Andrea Vance (over a suspected leak of a report about the GCSB spy agency), and Nicky Hager (for exposing scurrilous relationships between senior politicians and muck-raking bloggers) have been intimidated and attacked.
While our leaders do not shoot people, they work with others to try to ruin the lives and careers of those who disagree with them. The means may be different, but the intent is the same. One way or another, their critics (however valid their points of view might be) must be silenced.
It is not just outspoken individuals who are at risk. Institutions that are the bulwarks of our democracy have been undermined. Since the 1980s, the civil service, which is supposed to offer informed, impartial advice to politicians, has been brought under ministerial control, and instead of serving civil society now largely serves its political masters.
The freedom of the press has been compromised, for instance in the wake of the teapot tape scandal, when newspaper offices were raided in an effort to prevent the publication of those recordings, or when improper pressure is brought to bear on journalists and media outlets for partisan political purposes.
While H L Mencken defined good journalism as “afflicting the comfortable, and comforting the afflicted”, much journalism in New Zealand now does the opposite. Read more
█ Dame Anne Salmond is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Auckland. She was the 2013 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year.
Anthony Robins at The Standard says:
“Salmond goes on to cover attacks on “The independence of the judiciary and the rule of law”, “Independent statutory bodies”, “Freedom of thought and inquiry in universities and Crown Research Institutes” and “Radical extensions of the powers of the SIS and the GCSB” […] It’s an excellent article, and a depressing summary of the state of NZ.” Link
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