Paula Bennett calls out 'over-sensitive' New Zealanders amid free-speech furore

National's Tertiary Education spokesperson Paula Bennett says Massey University Vice Chancellor Jan Thomas was "wrong, wrong, wrong" to cancel Don Brash's speaking event.

Dr Brash was scheduled to speak at a university event on Wednesday before it was abruptly cancelled due to "security concerns".

Appearing on The AM Show on Wednesday, Ms Bennett said Professor Thomas' decision shows she "hasn't done her homework" and "doesn't understand the man".

"She has got this wrong, but what's also sad about it is this affects the whole institution, so it's not just her making a mistake," she told host Duncan Garner.

"I do worry about it in society and I think the University has totally got this one wrong and if they had any courage they would stand up and say they got it wrong."

Dr Brash was due to speak on campus about his time as National Party leader and Governor of the Reserve Bank.

However Prof Thomas cited concerns about Dr Brash's views as a reason to stop him speaking.

"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," she said in a statement on Tuesday.

Ms Bennett thinks there's been a pattern of attacks against free speech recently, including the waka-jumping Bill in front of Parliament and the campaign against Canadian activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux.

"You've got to say in the country at the moment, this discussion about freedom of expression... this one just seems extreme and ridiculous and I think is starting to show a pattern and we should be fighting back," she says.

"And it's not the kind of country I want to live in. I like hearing other people's views - a good argument can sway me and I want to be able to have those debates no matter where they come from. And I think as a country we're getting over-sensitive."

Prof Thomas said the views expressed by members of Hobson's Pledge come "dangerously close to hate speech" and Dr Brash's views on the Treaty of Waitangi are incompatible with Massey, which is now "Te Tiriti o Waitangi-led".

But Ms Bennett said she's seen worse online from left-wing activists.

"It's ironic that we're talking about things like hate speech and some of the worst hate that I've ever experienced has been via social media and the so-called 'Left luvvies' that think their view is the only one," she told Garner.

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