Judith Collins labeled 'ageist' as David Seymour attacks her defence of Golriz Ghahraman

The tables turned in David Seymour and Judith Collins' free speech debacle, with the former mocking the National MP for labelling a Green MP "just a kid".

Seymour and Collins were interviewed together by Magic Talk's Sean Plunket on Monday following the ACT leader's comment last week that Golriz Ghahraman was a "menace to freedom" in New Zealand. 

Collins, 60, defended Ghahraman on Twitter, telling Seymour: "Please don't refer to Golriz in this way. I do not agree with almost anything she says, but she is a person and it does not assist political debate to dehumanise her like that."

She doubled down on her defence of Ghahraman on Monday, telling Magic Talk the Green MP, 38, was often been treated unfairly in Parliament and that she's "just a kid in my view, she's in her 30s" and "she's a young person".

Seymour, 35, then mocked the National MP, accusing her of committing a "searing ageist attack on Golriz", adding that he felt a "need to stand up for Golriz Ghahraman who, like me, is also in her 30s. That's a disgrace".

Ghahraman is the same age as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She's not the first Green MP to have her age highlighted by another politician. 

Paula Bennett, 50, criticised the Government for not taking cannabis legalisation seriously by "throwing something this important out to a very junior Member of Parliament", referring to 24-year-old Chlöe Swarbrick. 

National MP Judith Collins.
National MP Judith Collins. Photo credit: Getty

The Epsom MP then defended his attack on Ghahraman, telling Magic Talk her calls for "stricter boundaries on what people are allowed to say when they genuinely believe it [makes her a] menace, not to our society... but to freedom in our society".

Seymour said: "That is how tyranny begins. I think we should be a lot more worried about that than how exactly it is said."

Ghahraman has called for tougher laws around hate speech, saying she wants more protection for religious groups, gender and the Rainbow community. 

"Our law already protects individuals against harmful speech. You can't threaten people, you can't harm their reputation. If defamation against individuals is already illegal, why should people be allowed to harm entire minority groups?"

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman.
Green MP Golriz Ghahraman. Photo credit: The AM Show

The Green MP has also been subject to personal attacks in the past because of her beliefs and because she came to New Zealand as a refugee. Last year she revealed the torrents of abuse online from racist and misogynistic trolls she's had to put up with.

Collins told Magic Talk it was not acceptable for Seymour to refer to Ghahraman as "being a menace to society". She said while she doesn't agree with the Green MP's views, it doesn't mean she should be attack "in quite a personal way".

"Parliament is a really tough place, but actually for some people it's a lot tougher and she is someone who gives a lot of stuff back to people, but she also, I think at the moment, is getting a lot more than what she deserves."

Collins added: "I think it's time we calm down in Parliament and outside of Parliament and just remember that she's just a human being."

ACT leader David Seymour.
ACT leader David Seymour. Photo credit: Newshub

She said while she had no problem with Seymour exercising his free speech, she said he can "expect me to comment about it".

"Just like he wants to express his free speech, I am expressing mine, which is that we need to be a little bit kinder towards each other even when that person has views entirely different from ourselves and we don't need to always make it so personal."

When asked if Ghahraman is kind towards other politicians, Collins said: "No she's not, and I've spoken to her about that too."

Ghahraman said she's considering reporting Seymour's comments to the Speaker Trevor Mallard, which Collins said would be "nonsense". 

"My view is that people will make their own judgement on what was said by David and they don't need to have Trevor Mallard to tell them what they think about it."