Key Points:

A bill repealing sedition laws has past its first parliamentary hurdle with the universal support of MPs.

The Crimes (Repeal of Seditious Offences) Amendment Bill was today sent to select committee for further consideration with no MPs voicing dissent about its passage.

The Government introduced the bill after four minor parties -- the Greens, United Future, ACT and the Maori Party -- made a joint appeal for the laws to be scrapped.

The Law Commission had also recommended repeal.

Justice Minister Mark Burton has said the bill would repeal sections of the Crimes Act which set out seditious offences.

"The sedition provisions infringe on the principle of freedom of expression and have the potential for abuse," he said.

"The Government agrees with the Law Commission's finding that the present law of sedition attacks the democratic value of free speech for no adequate public reason."

Sedition is an ancient law intended to protect the Crown from attempts to undermine its authority. In New Zealand it also covers the offences of inciting lawlessness and disorder.

The Law Commission reviewed the laws last year after a man was found guilty of sedition for putting an axe through the window of Prime minister Helen Clark's electorate office, and issuing a pamphlet calling on others to commit similar acts in response to the foreshore and seabed legislation.

Police last month decided to drop a sedition charge against a Dunedin pub manager who printed a promotional pamphlet for university Orientation Week featuring offers to swap petrol for beer and a prize of a fuel-soaked couch.

- NZPA