Qld introduces new defamation legislation
Queensland has introduced significant defamation reforms aimed at protecting the reputation of individuals and freedom of speech within modern media reporting.
Attorney-General and minister for justice Shannon Fentiman announced that The Defamation (Model Provisions) and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 has been introduced into Parliament and, if passed, the amendments to the Defamation Act 2005 as it covers media and individuals will commence in July 2021.
Ms Fentiman said updating the national approach to defamation laws would provide clarity to courts, the community and the media: “This is a significant step to protect freedom of expression and ensure open and transparent reporting in our state.”
Some of the key changes include a single publication rule to provide simplicity for organisations that host multiple news sites, a serious harm threshold, greater clarification on cap on damages for non-economic loss and two new defences, including a public interest defence and a defence for peer-reviewed statements.
“These updates to our laws around defamation have been proposed after considerable consultation with the public, legal and academic experts and stakeholders,” Ms Fentiman said.
“Guidance has also been provided by case law from both Australia and overseas and having regard to advancements in technology during this time.”
The proposed legislative amendments would apply to defamatory matters published after the commencement of the amendments, meaning existing defamation proceedings will continue under the former laws.