Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters says he would have let controversial far-right activists speak in New Zealand, as it emerges they have been banned from entering Australia.
Lauren Southern, 23, was scheduled to appear in events across Australia and in Auckland alongside Stefan Molyneux, another polarising far-right speaker. The pair are well-known for their controversial views on religion, ethnicities, politics and immigration, among other topics.
Mr Peters decision comes after venue operators in Auckland cancelled the planned speaking event citing "health and safety" after Mayor Phil Goff sent a clear message they are not welcome at council venues.
"Had we been asked... we'd have allowed them to come on the basis of free speech," Mr Peters said in a post-Cabinet press conference on Monday.
"It's one of the most fundamental freedoms that we have and we should be very careful who we expel on that cause, because the downstream historic record on that has been just disastrous.
"We live in an age when all sorts of trolls are out there challenging people's right to have a different view from theirs. It's not enhancing our society."
Ms Southern has had her Australian visa cancelled amid the controversy of here upcoming shows.
Sky News Australia host Ross Cameron posted a photo online of an email to Ms Southern from VisaBureau.com, showing her declined application.
Venue operators in Auckland cancelled the planned speaking event after Mayor Phil Goff sent a clear message they are not welcome at council venues.
"I just think we've got no obligation at all - in a city that's multicultural, inclusive, embraces people of all faiths and ethnicities - to provide a venue for hate speech by people that want to abuse and insult others, either their faith or their ethnicity," Mr Goff told Newshub at the time.
"These individuals who want to incite hatred against others are, in my view, not welcome here."
Their denial to speak at Auckland venues comes after Auckland Peace Action (APA) called on the Government to not allow their entry to New Zealand.
Mr Peters' view on the subject is echoed by National leader Simon Bridges, who believes the duo should be allowed to speak even if people disagree with their views.
Mr Bridges told TVNZ's Breakfast show on Monday he strongly disagreed with their messages but free speech was important.
"I disagree strongly with what these activists are saying, but I think it's a dangerous thing to say, 'Because we don't like what you're saying, we won't let you in'.
"I can see how [Goff] made his decision, but I wouldn't have banned them from coming to New Zealand.
"We should allow people we strongly disagree with to come. We're a mature, liberal democracy."
Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway office told Newshub that no action is being taken at this point in time.
"Neither Ms Southern or Mr Molyneux has a current visa application in train."