Today Abigail called for Parliament to acknowledge the vital role a free media play in a healthy democracy and the need for urgent reforms to NSW's broken defamation system.
Ms Boyd says—
I give notice that on the next sitting day I will move:
(1) That this House acknowledges the importance of independent investigative journalism to the integrity of our democratic system.
(2) That this House notes with concern the threat to press freedom and danger to journalism that was posed by the Ben Roberts-Smith defamation case.
(3) That this House further notes that although Roberts-Smith was unsuccessful in his case against Nine Entertainment, the silencing of journalism and public criticism of a man charged with war crimes has widespread implications for democracy.
(4) This House notes that NSW has one of the highest instances of defamation claims in the world which:
- enables powerful people to suppress accountability and investigations of wrongful conduct,
- only serves to protect the secrets, crimes and corruption of wealthy and powerful figures,
- poses a threat to our democracy by smothering investigative journalism and public condemnation of actions as severe as war crimes
- permitted Ben Roberts Smith to, ‘lie to the court,’ hide key evidence and provide ‘key witnesses who were not honest or reliable’ in order to silence truth telling of the killing of Ali Jan.
(5) That this House calls on the Attorney-General to work with his Federal and State and Territory counterparts to urgently reform our defamation laws to ensure that they are not used as a weapon to silence truth-telling and independent investigative journalism.