Cancelling Don Brash speaking event an 'overreaction' - Jacinda Ardern

  • 07/08/2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the cancellation of the Don Brash speaking event at Massey University was an "overreaction".

Ms Ardern's described Massey University's decision as such during Question Time on Tuesday afternoon.



"Ultimately, institutions have their own freedom on a day to day basis," she said, in answer to a question from ACT's David Seymour. Mr Seymour is calling for universities that "undermine freedom of expression" to be defunded.

"If he is asking me for a personal opinion, the example I think he is pointing to I would characterise as an overreaction on the part of the institution," Ms Ardern said.

"Will we retaliate? Of course not."

Dr Brash was "dumbfounded" when he was told an event he was due to speak at was cancelled due to "security concerns" on Tuesday morning.

"I got the invitation two and a half months ago. This morning I was advised I should not be on campus due to security concerns," he told Newshub.

"I was asked to talk about my time in Parliament, and why I should be banned is entirely unclear." 

Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas said "security concerns" were behind the cancellation, but went on to cite concerns about Dr Brash's controversial views.

"Mr Brash's leadership of Hobson's Pledge and views he and its supporters espoused in relation to Māori wards on councils was clearly of concern to many staff - particularly Māori staff," Professor Thomas said.

She said there is a feeling of "heightened sensitivity and passion" following the New Zealand visit of far-right speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux.