How our tough defamation laws are silencing writers and publishers

Ferguson’s unauthorized biography Gina Rinehart has been legalized twice and she’s fact-checked everything, but Ferguson said the mining tycoon had more stake in Fairfax (then owner of Age And The Sydney Morning Herald) and tried to get three seats on the board.


Both Ferguson and Milligan had faced subpoenas to reveal their sources and had they lost they might have gone to jail. It was particularly hard for Milligan because the trial was to be held in secret. She was at the Byron Bay Writers’ Festival doing advertising cardinal when she found out. “It was all wonderful, they gave us a standing ovation, and I was scared, crying and thinking, what’s happening here? Who’s watching?”

In addition to legal decisions, they also had to be careful to make moral decisions about what they were revealing: “fair, sober, trauma-informed journalism,” as Milligan put it.

After hearing about all the obstacles, it seemed a miracle that investigative tell-all biographies were even being published. But what were we missing? Ferguson was asked what her book about Rinehart would have looked like if there had been no legal restrictions. “It would have been a lot juicier,” she said. How our tough defamation laws are silencing writers and publishers

Jaclyn Diaz

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