ACT's David Seymour slams 'out of his depth' Kris Faafoi on hate speech proposals

ACT leader David Seymour says Justice Minister Kris Faafoi's responses to questions about proposed new hate speech laws show he's "out of his depth".

Faafoi was grilled on the new proposals on Newshub Nation on Saturday, host Tova O'Brien throwing a range of scenarios at him - such as whether Millennials could be prosecuted for hating Boomers over house prices, or saying gay people are going to hell.

Faafoi said he was "not going to nickel and dime every case", and it would be up to police whether to prosecute - the bar being whether the speech was inciting hatred towards a particular group. 

"I'm the Minister of Justice, I don't get to decide that," he said.

Seymour, who has campaigned against "cancel culture" and deplatforming controversial speakers like Don Brash, said Faafoi "shrugged his shoulders" at the tough questioning.

"When interpreting the law, courts often look to speeches from the minister responsible to see what Parliament really intended a law to mean," he said after Newshub Nation aired.

"They won't get any help from Kris Faafoi, who couldn't answer what speech was likely to face prosecution… That's because he can't say. 

"Hate speech is subjective and politicised. Faafoi knows Police will end up facing pressure to prosecute people with unpopular views. "When they face that pressure, the first thing they'll think is 'well, even the guy behind this law didn't know."

David Seymour and Kris Faafoi.
David Seymour and Kris Faafoi. Photo credit: Newshub.

Labour has a majority in Parliament, so can pass whatever it likes without needing any other parties' support. The proposals come from recommendations made by the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terror attack.

Public consultation is open until August 6. 

"It is complex, parts are controversial," said Faafoi. "We need to do it properly and go through a process to make sure that when we do do it, if there are changes to be made, we make them because it's for the purpose and we will listen to people." 

Seymour said ACT will "continue to fight this law which will do nothing but divide society even further and ultimately increase hateful attitudes in our society".

"Threatening others or inciting violence should be illegal, but tests as subjective as 'offensive' or 'insulting' should never be used to prosecute offences."