Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Pearson, M. (2007). A review of Australia's defamation reforms after a year of operation. Australian Journalism Review, Vol. 29(1), pp. 41-51

Pre-print version.

2007 HERDC submission.

Copyright © Mark Pearson, 2007.


Australia introduced near-uniform defamation laws in 2006, replacing a complex array of laws in its eight state and territory jurisdictions. The reformed laws introduced several consistencies, including a one year limitation period, an expedited offer of amends process, a cap on non-economic damages, and a suite of defences in addition to the common law defences which were preserved. The changes were the fruits of compromise between attorneys-general at both levels of government and industry lobbyists. This article suggests that, while the early indications are that there have been some positive outcomes for media defendants, the laws may have contributed to some potential restrictions on free expression in the areas investigative journalism and privacy.



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