Australia set to unify defamation legislation

Australia could introduce uniform national defamation laws after the country’s eight states and territories agreed earlier this month to support the development of new legislation.

The claim comes after the states and territories unanimously voiced their support of a model bill for the laws proposed by the New South Wales government at a meeting of the Ministerial Council of Corporations at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG).

The model bill proposes a blueprint for defamation laws to be adopted by each state and territory in order to unify the differing systems. Defamation laws in Australia currently vary from state to state, utilising a patchwork of common law and state and territory statutes.

Each of the states and territories will now take the draft bill to their cabinets over the next year in order to seek endorsement and legislate the changes.

The proposed changes would ensure truth becomes a standalone defence, rule out the defamation of dead people and remove the right of corporations to sue individuals. It also will shorten the time limit for suits to 12 months.