ACT Party leader David Seymour's freedom of speech talk interrupted by 'lame' protesters

ACT Party leader David Seymour says he's had a positive reception to his freedom of speech tour, despite a small group of "lame" protesters interrupting a talk last week. 

Seymour - known for his advocacy of freedom of speech - was giving a talk in Dunedin on Friday when a small group of protesters interrupted him.

Video footage posted on social media shows Seymour speaking in an auditorium when a man steps up beside him holding a large piece of paper with his Seymour's face on it.

"Freedom of speech is not freedom of consequences," the man says. 

Seymour replies: "There you go buddy… is this supposed to be a protest or something?"

The ACT Party leader then hands the man the microphone and watches on as the protester says: "We are just here to say, freedom of speech is not freedom without consequences. Look up the law."

The man then leaves with a small group of people. After Seymour asks if any of them wanted to speak, one says they had better things to do with their time.

Captioning the video on Facebook, Seymour wrote that he had "never had protesters before".

"These ones were pretty lame, but I guess a politician has to start somewhere. Maybe they weren't too bad for first time protesters?."

He told Newshub that he had been hoping for higher-quality protesters for his first time and thought it was ironic that while they were complaining about white, male privilege, their speaker was both white and a man.

Seymour's been on a freedom of speech tour recently, visiting several towns last week - including Christchurch and Dunedin - with Invercargill on the agenda for Tuesday.

Despite the small protest on Friday, he said the response had been largely positive and people were interested in the legal and cultural state of freedom of speech in New Zealand.

"People feel a sense of self-censorship. If they say the wrong thing they feel they will be attacked."

But it's not the first time Seymour has been criticised for his views on freedom to speech. 

In May, he was accused by Green MP Golriz Ghahramn of "dog-whistling to racists" after calling her a "menace to freedom" in regards to her views on hate speech laws. National MP Judith Collins backed Ghahraman up, saying "she is a person and it does not assist political debate to dehumanise her like that".

Seymour has been a strong advocate of freedom of speech this year, particularly in light of Justice Minister Andrew Little asking his ministry to work with the Human Rights Commission to look into whether laws sufficiently balance issues of freedom of speech and hate speech.

That came in the wake of the Christchurch terror attacks and concerns from religious groups about extremist language from people inciting violence against them.

While laws prohibit the incitement of racial disharmony, Little says the same sanctions don't apply on grounds of religious faith.

Seymour wants to remove restrictions on freedom of expression which "make 'insulting', 'abusive' and 'offensive' speech unlawful".

But his proposals raised concern with the NZ Council of Civil Liberties

"I think it could be a dangerous approach because there's a lot of speech out there which is very harmful for people, and when we look at laws around changing that, we need to worry about the harm as well as the freedom of expression," said Thomas Beagle, chairperson of the council.