Urgent call to fix law after Hockey win
THE Australian Press Council has called for urgent reform of defamation laws to stop politicians using them to curb investigative journalism and soothe hurt feelings.
Chairman David Weisbrot issued a statement in the wake of the $ 200,000 payout awarded to Treasurer Joe Hockey on Tuesday after a court found Fairfax Media had defamed him on a poster and in tweets claiming he was “for sale”.
Prof Weisbrot said legal action should be the last resort, but was all too often the first.
“Using the court system to assign a dollar value to bruised feelings is a crude way of achieving the same outcome,” he said.
Prof Weisbrot volunteered the Press Council to lead a reform process and said the UK and US had better models for the protection of free speech and the role of the press.
“The current law seriously inhibits investigative reporting and robust political debate,” he said.