Australia

Defence Minister Peter Dutton to mediate over ‘apologist’ tweet

Defense Minister Peter Dutton’s six-word tweet case is not “one of the biggest defamation cases” in federal court, but a strong candidate for a pre-trial settlement, the judge said.

Queensland lawmakers are suing refugee activist Shane Bazzi for a deleted tweet dubbed “rape defensive scholar” and linked to a news article.

Dutton said the tweet suggested defaming him, tolerating rape and making excuses.

If Mr. Bazzi is wrong, activists say the statement was granted on the grounds of honest opinion and fair comment.

Before raising the issue for the three-day trial in October, Judge Richard White repeatedly raised the issue for a settlement on Wednesday.

He said the issue was limited, the issue was related to one document, and only two defenses were being sued.

“Negatively, this wouldn’t be one of the biggest defamation cases in this court,” he told a male lawyer.

“This is a relatively narrow range, and I would have thought that a wise party could achieve a compromise in many such situations.”

As a judge, he modified his statement by admitting that he did not “know everything that was happening in the background.”

Mr. Dutton’s barrister Nick Ferret QC said the former Interior Minister would provide evidence in a trial “about the pain caused by publishing.”

Parliamentarians claim in court documents that he was hurt, embarrassed, and fell into “hate, ridicule, and contempt.”

The court said one or two unnamed witnesses were also expected to provide evidence of Mr. Dutton’s reputation.

According to barrister Louise Goodchild, only activists could have been witnessed in Bazzi’s case, which had not yet been decided.

Both lawyers suspected mediation before the trial was successful, but said their clients would be happy to participate if the court determined it was appropriate.

Judge White urged both sides to approach a meeting with the court’s registration body with “willingness to reach a settlement and willingness to compromise.”

“My clients will approach honest mediation,” Ferret said.

The case was also listed at a management hearing on September 21, prior to the trial on October 6, 7, and 8.

In March, Dutton promised that Twitter users would file a proceeding by making defamatory statements taken up by “lazy journalists” as representative of the views of the larger community.

Mr. Bargie’s rape scholar’s allegations are similar to a previous statement by Green Party senator Larissa Waters, who subsequently withdrew her allegations and apologized.

In addition to the rape dialectist claim, Bazzi’s tweet contained a link to 2019. Guardian Australia An article reporting Mr. Dutton’s comment that female refugees are “trying on” by claiming to have been raped.

Dutton told Sky News that female refugees detained in Nauru had to come to Australia for a post-rape abortion, but changed their minds when they arrived.

“You may be wondering if people need treatment,” he said at the time.

Bazzi would argue that his tweet’s opinion is based on the interview and other public comments made by Dutton on the refugees sent to Nauru.

-AAP



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