Prime Minister Chris Hipkins wouldn’t be drawn on comments from an anti-transgender rights activist that her immigration review was “Orwellian” over free speech concerns saying they sound like “comments of someone who just wants to get a headline”.
It comes as the Green Party calls for the Government to stop Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, also known as Posie Parker, from getting into the country on Thursday after her rallies overseas also attracted Nazi supporters. They fear the same could occur here and have cited public safety threats as a reason to stop her visit.
Keen-Minshull recently visited Melbourne where her fans were seen to be giving Nazi salutes and abusing LGBT counter-protesters.
The Government is planning to make a decision before her scheduled arrival on Thursday.
National Party leader Christopher Luxon meanwhile said he didn’t agree with the British anti-transgender rights activist but that was not a good reason to stop her from coming here.
Hipkins on Monday said he condemned people who used their right to free speech in a way that seeks to deliberately create division and Immigration NZ is reviewing whether it can stop her from entering the country.
This saw Keen-Minshull hit back, saying the Immigration New Zealand (INZ) review was: “Absolutely Orwellian, insane. I would agree with [Hipkins], I condemn free speech when it’s used to silence women, for example when people say men can be women.”
Today, Hipkins said there was nothing new to add on the issue.
He said her comments “sound like the comments of someone who just wants to get a headline”.
If there needed to be a decision it would go to the Minister of Immigration Michael Wood.
He said he did not know all of the facts so would not involve himself in it.
Luxon told media today the crux of the issue came down to free speech.
“I don’t subscribe to her views. We want every New Zealander to feel safe to express the agenda and their identity as they wish.
“Equally, we wouldn’t ban her from coming here because we are also a liberal democracy that believes in free speech.”
He said there should be a “high bar” to stop someone entering the country because of what they say.
“We may not like what she has to say, but we shouldn’t just ban someone. There is a high bar to ban someone from coming into the country because you don’t like what they say.
“We believe in free speech and as a result. [That] doesn’t mean we believe with their views or, or have, have an alignment with their views at all.
“But, you know, when you start banning people because you don’t like what they say, that’s not a good enough reason.”
Keen-Minshull has widely criticised policies that support the transgender community and has been labelled as an anti-trans activist.
In a video posted to YouTube, Keen-Minshull, addressing the PM, said: “Let me just tell you this. Revoke my visa at your peril. Let’s see what happens when you stop a woman who is a women’s rights campaigner, when you stop her from being able to come and facilitate the speech of women in your country.
Hipkins told the AM Show he would not intervene or get involved in the matter of granting entry to Keen-Minshull.
“It’s a matter for the officials,” he said. “Whether someone is of good character to enter NZ or not, is not up to me.”
Hipkins said he believed in responsible free speech.
“People are allowed to express their views and oppose those they don’t agree with.” However, he did not agree with “inciting violence.
“Law has a clear line on what you can’t do and I respect that.”
Immigration NZ general manager Richard Owen told the Herald Keen-Minshull is the holder of British passport, which enables her to travel to New Zealand for a temporary visit without the need to apply for a visa in advance.
“Instead, all visa-waiver nationals who wish to visit New Zealand must apply for a New Zealand Electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA).”
Owen said in completing an NZeTA application the applicant must declare any previous convictions or removals/exclusions from other countries. On arrival, the holder of an NZeTA applies for a visa to enter New Zealand.
He confirmed Keen-Minshull is the holder of an NZeTA.
“INZ is now reviewing whether, in the light of the events at the weekend, Ms Keen-Minshull is still able to travel to New Zealand on the basis of the NZeTA that she holds without obtaining a visa first.”
“Free speech is a difficult principle to uphold and I fundamentally uphold it.”
Keen-Minshull denied her supporters posed a risk and claimed: “There’s not a single woman who ever attended any of my events and has been the aggressor. Middle-aged women asking for their rights are not going and intimidating anyone on the opposing side.”
But when pressed on the presence of people at her events giving Nazi salutes, Keen-Minshull said: “They’re absolutely not associated with me whatsoever.
“I absolutely abhor anything to do with Nazis. It’s preposterous they even exist in 2023.”