A defamatory statement is any statement published to a third party which harms a person’s reputation. A person who feels they have been defamed may apply to the Court to seek compensation for the harm suffered. Compensation is not limited to economic loss and a person does not have to suffer economic loss to make a claim.
There are some defences available such as the statement being substantially true, it was an honest opinion rather than a statement of fact, or it was made in the interest of the public.
A couple of recent examples of defamation in the political arena are:
(1) The ‘Christian Porter’ case:
Mr Porter sued the ABC for defamatory publications made. These publications carried an imputation that he sexually assaulted the young woman referred to in the ABC article (see Porter v Australian Broadcasting Corporation  FCA 863). This matter was settled out of Court.
(2) Hanson-Young v Leyonhjelm (No 4)  FAC 1981:
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young successfully sued Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm over defamatory comments he made in a Senate inquiry and subsequent media interviews in 2018. The comments made by Senator Leyonhjelm suggested Senator Hanson-Young was a misandrist and a hypocrite. Senator Leyonhjelm sought leave to appeal the decision in the High Court. On 17 June 2021, the High Court denied leave crystalising the decision made in favour of Senator Hanson-Young. Senator Hanson-Young was awarded $120,000 damages and costs.
WALGA and State Council take their responsibility as Trustee of your Scheme very seriously and regularly review the Scheme and the services provided to members.
On 8 September 2021, the High Court handed down its decision in Fairfax Media Publications Pty Ltd v Voller  HCA 27 (the Voller decision) which dealt with the issue of whether Facebook users are responsible for defamatory comments made by third-parties on Facebook pages created by them.
The media outlets argued that they had a valid defence, being that there is no liability to the “owner” of the Facebook page because:
Although the High Court accepted that the media entities played no active role in publishing or adopting the comments, it determined that the media entities facilitated the making of comments because they invited and encouraged comments from Facebook users and provided the vehicle for publication to those who might want to respond.
The judgment confirmed that media entities will be treated as the publisher of all third-party comments made in response to any articles the media entity publishes on Facebook.
Defamation claims are becoming more commonplace, especially with the increased use, and variety, of available internet intermediaries such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok in the business arena.
The Voller decision has broad-reaching implications for the use of these internet intermediaries. By allowing comments to be written on a person, corporation or government’s page, they will be seen as inviting and encouraging comments and responses. The practical effect which follows is that every user of social media can be liable for defamatory statements made by members of the public on their posts.
Be mindful of common triggers which may lead to defamatory statements being made on internet intermediaries either by yourself or a member of the public, such as:
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Waste and recycling facilities are considered high risk due to the increased levels of combustibles, the potential for environmental damage, and health and safety concerns.
Conflict in the workplace is almost an inevitable part of working life.
It is common to have disagreement with colleagues due to the fact that you are working with people who have different working preferences, personal values, and working styles.