27 April 2021
O’Brien Criminal and Civil Solicitors have been instructed to vigorously defend defamation proceedings brought by the Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, against our client, Shane Bazzi.
Mr Bazzi expressed an honest opinion on Twitter that Peter Dutton was a “rape apologist”. This opinion was based on a number of publicly reported statements that had been attributed to Mr Dutton. Statements that were about matters in the public interest and that would undoubtedly provoke a number of different opinions, including that expressed by Mr. Bazzi.
A robust and vibrant democracy like ours should cultivate and encourage a diverse array of expressions of opinion on matters of public interest.
We believe that the decision of Mr. Dutton to sue Mr Bazzi for having this opinion raises genuine concerns about freedom of speech in Australia. Freedom of speech is a value that our firm will strongly defend.
While there must be some limits to that freedom, we will always defend the right of people to hold opinions, especially against politicians.
Those who are elected to public office must expect to be subject to adverse opinions and society is entitled to expect a greater level of tolerance from such persons.
For a politician to use the defamation law to stifle the expression of a public opinion is cause for real concern.
We look forward to defending Mr Bazzi and airing our concerns in Court.
O’BRIEN CRIMINAL & CIVIL SOLICITORS