Judith Collins promises to reverse Government's hate speech proposals, calls on Jacinda Ardern to front

Judith Collins is promising to reverse the Government's proposed new 'hate speech' laws, calling them an attempt to control New Zealanders.

On Friday the Government released a discussion document outlining six changes, which would clarify what's illegal, protect more minority groups, add a new criminal offence and increase the maximum penalties to three years in jail and $50,000 fines.

But the proposals have come under sustained criticism from the Opposition, with MPs labelling the proposed changes "Orwellian" and "a huge win for cancel culture".

Collins says National will reverse any attempts to criminalise speech beyond the threshold of 'inciting violence'.

"This is an opportunistic grab at one of our most fundamental rights and New Zealanders can be assured that we will fight this on their behalf," she says in a statement.

"This is about control. It is about ensuring that only approved opinions are allowed and making questioning those opinions criminal. The matter of who decides what opinions are acceptable is unclear.

"The National Party condemns vile speech that is intended to insult, but there is a big leap from condemning it to criminalising it."

On Saturday Justice Minister Kris Faafoi struggled through a grilling on Newshub Nation about potential scenarios under the new laws, including whether Millennials expressing hatred towards Boomers over the housing crisis could be held liable.

Collins says it's evidence Jacinda Ardern needs to step in and front the proposed 'hate speech' laws herself.

"The Prime Minister has delegated the task of imposing these laws on New Zealanders to a minister who doesn't understand how the laws will work himself. He cannot tell us what 'hatred' looks like nor what the threshold for punishment is," she says.

"If she is going to erode our democracy and control our speech she needs to own it. New Zealanders are entitled to hear from their Prime Minister as to why it is she thinks she is entitled to control even our most core rights.

"I will not be allowing her to palm the issue off to others. It is too important; preserving our democracy is too important. I will be going directly to the Prime Minister to get answers for New Zealanders. I certainly hope she has better answers than Minister Faafoi."

Public consultation is open until August 6, then any legislation will go through the select committee. However as Labour has a majority in Parliament, it can pass the laws without needing any other parties' support.

Faafoi says balancing freedom of expression with protections against 'hate speech' requires "careful consideration" and "a wide range of input".

"It is complex, parts are controversial," he says. "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."