Statement on Andrew Stoner dropping defamation action
MEDIA RELEASE - 6 August 2015
“I am pleased to have prevailed in this case with former Deputy Premier and Leader of the National Party Andrew Stoner withdrawing his defamation suit, without any apology being issued and paying his own legal costs. The defence we lodged was detailed and fierce and I am not surprised Andrew Stoner did not wish to pursue the case, knowing that we would have exercised these matters vigorously.
“This was a SLAPP suit launched on the eve of a state election in an attempt to silence myself and Alan Jones because we are the biggest critics of the National Party on the issue of coal and coal seam gas threatening our farmers and food bowl.
“I am not a wealthy individual and this law suit threatened my career and the financial security of my family, but the Greens have a history of standing up and will not be intimidated by the rich and powerful.
“Having been tangled up in defamation law, I am convinced that it needs serious reform. It is skewed towards wealthy people who can risk large legal costs, and it infringes on free speech, particularly political communication, which ought to be provided the highest protections in Australia.
“Australia is a robust democracy and criticism of public representatives is an important part of our democratic system. There should be a much higher bar set for politicians to sue for defamation, such as what exists in the United States.
“As a stone mason in the Central West of NSW, I used to tend to former Prime Minister Ben Chifley’s grave in the Bathurst Cemetery. The epitaph on his headstone reads: “If an idea is worth fighting for, no matter the penalty, fight for the right, and truth and justice will prevail.’
“Defamation law, as it currently stands, undermines the ability of those without wealth to pursue Chifley’s ideal. This must be fixed.
“The Greens will continue to stand up for farmers in their fight to protect land and water against coal and coal seam gas mining.”