Defamation Actions and Australian Politics

UNSW Law Journal Forum, 2021, Forthcoming

10 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2021 Last revised: 23 Jun 2021

See all articles by Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas

The University of Western Australia Law School

Date Written: May 31, 2021


In recent years, politicians have been frequent participants in Australian defamation litigation. [Former] Attorney-General Christian Porter’s recent claim against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan is a notable example of the weaponisation of defamation in Australian politics. This brief article reviews prominent examples of where politicians have commenced or threatened defamation proceedings. The focus is on cases in which politicians are plaintiffs, although some cases mentioned below also involve politician defendants. The article considers whether the trend of politicians litigating defamation is desirable, and how it will be affected by the amendment of the Uniform Defamation Acts once the 2020 Model Defamation Amendment Provisions are implemented. It begins by considering the value of politicians’ reputations, which defamation law may protect.

Keywords: defamation, politics, Australia, torts

Suggested Citation

Douglas, Michael, Defamation Actions and Australian Politics (May 31, 2021). UNSW Law Journal Forum, 2021, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: or

Michael Douglas (Contact Author)

The University of Western Australia Law School ( email )

35 Stirling Highway
Crawley, Western Australia 6009


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