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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 05 Hansard (Wednesday, 12 May 2021) . . Page.. 1354 ..

Human Rights and Minister for Multicultural Affairs): Under standing order 46 and possibly also 47, I seek to make a personal explanation and to explain words.

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Cain): Please proceed.

MS CHEYNE: To suit Ms Castley’s own agenda in her questions to Minister Berry yesterday in question time, and now again in her speech, she has intimated that she has been quoting me. However, I wish to stress that I have been verballed, including to a point that Ms Castley is using words that I have never uttered.

Civil Law (Wrongs) Amendment Bill 2021

Mr Rattenbury, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong—Attorney-General, Minister for Consumer Affairs, Minister for Gaming and Minister for Water, Energy and Emissions Reduction) (11.51): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Civil Law (Wrongs) Amendment Bill 2021 to the Assembly. The bill enacts in the ACT the Model Defamation Amendment Provisions that have been agreed to by the Council of Attorneys-General, now known as the Meeting of Attorneys-General. The bill does this by amending chapter 9 of the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act 2002 to introduce these model provisions. These amendments will improve defamation laws in the territory as a part of this national framework.

The reforms ensure that defamation law aligns more closely with the community’s expectations about what should and should not be allowed. They ensure our laws do not place unreasonable limits on freedom of expression and, in particular, on the publication and discussion of matters of public interest and importance. They achieve this by providing effective and fair remedies for people whose reputations are harmed by the publication of defamatory matter and promoting speedy and non-litigious methods of resolving disputes. These amendments will continue to harmonise and unify defamation laws across jurisdictions as part 1 of a stage of reforms.

In 2005 and 2006 state and territory jurisdictions endorsed and enacted the model defamation provisions. This was to be a uniform regime for regulating defamation actions across Australia. Since 2018 the Defamation Working Party, which consists of representatives from all jurisdictions, has been working to guide the implementation of the model defamation provisions, reviewing the proposed amendments and developing options to improve the operation of defamation laws nationally.

The review of the model defamation provisions has involved detailed policy work and two rounds of stakeholder consultation. From the discussion paper released in early 2019 inviting stakeholder submissions, 44 submissions were received and three

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