JavaScript is off. Please enable to view full site.

Australia defence minister awarded $25,000 over defamatory six-word tweet

Australia defence minister awarded $25,000 over defamatory six-word tweet

Wednesday, November 24, 2021, 14:18 GMT+7
Australia defence minister awarded $25,000 over defamatory six-word tweet
Australian Minister of Defense Peter Dutton speaks during a news conference with Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin (not pictured) at the State Department in Washington, U.S., September 16, 2021. Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Reuters

Australia's defence minister won a defamation lawsuit on Wednesday against a refugee advocate who described him as a "rape apologist" in a tweet, a small advance in the conservative government's effort to curb damaging commentary on social media.

Peter Dutton, an outspoken cabinet minister, experienced "hurt and distress" when shown the Feb. 25 Twitter post by a staff member, although his public profile would have meant most people viewed it as opinion rather than a fact, a federal court judge ruled.

The lawmaker was awarded A$35,000 ($25,000) in damages, a fraction of the maximum amount possible, after the judge found that Dutton had been defamed but his day-to-day life was not impacted by the now-deleted tweet.

The ruling marks another milestone in a campaign by the government to rein in what it has called a "coward's palace" of vindictive shared on social media. Earlier this year, former attorney general Christian Porter settled a defamation action against the Australian Broadcasting Corp over Twitter posts about a historic rape allegation which he denied.

Dutton's lawsuit against activist Shane Bazzi was over a midnight tweet on a day when the politician, who was then immigration minister, defended in media appearances his handling of a complaint about sexual assault inside parliament house.

Bazzi tweeted a link to a 2019 article in which Dutton suggested some refugees claiming to be rape victims were "trying it on" to be allowed into Australia, coupled with the sentence "Peter Dutton is a rape apologist".

Dutton was accustomed to the "rough-and-tumble of politics" but "deeply offended by the tweet", noting that Bazzi's account had a blue tick, indicating that he was a verified user, said the judge, Richard White in his published ruling.

The "description of Mr Dutton as a person who excuses rape was no doubt a serious defamation" but "he did not claim to have suffered more serious consequences by reason of the publication of the Tweet or even that his hurt and distress had continued to the date of trial", the judge added.

A representative for Dutton was not immediately available for comment. Bazzi said in a tweet that was he "very disappointed with the outcome" and would consider his options.

Reuters

More

Read more

International Space Station swerves to dodge space junk

The International Space Station (ISS) had to swerve away from a fragment of a U.S. launch vehicle on Friday, the head of Russia's space agency said, the latest in a series of incidents in which space debris have forced astronauts to respond

1 day ago
;

Photos

VIDEOS

Vietnamese woman gives unconditional love to hundreds of adopted children

Despite her own immense hardship, she has taken in and cared for hundreds of orphans over the past three decades.

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta celebrates spring with ‘hat boi’ performances

The art form is so popular that it attracts people from all ages in the Mekong Delta

Vietnamese youngster travels back in time with clay miniatures

Each work is a scene caught by Dung and kept in his memories through his journeys across Vietnam

Latest news