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Push for jury trials in defamation cases

Independent MP Zoe Daniel has pledged to lobby for law reform allowing people locked in a defamation battle to fight it out in front of a jury in the Federal Court.

Ms Daniel, representing the federal seat of Goldstein in Melbourne, released a statement on Thursday announcing she will push for legislation enabling a trial by jury.

“The situation in Australia, where the burden resides with the publisher, has a chilling effect on local reporting and subsequently cowers editors as they commission and publish investigative journalism,” she said.

“I completely subscribe to the position that the law of defamation should allow the robust discussion of matters in the public interest and free exchange of opinion.”

Ms Daniel also said she would be bringing forward a motion in the lower house for a judicial inquiry into media ownership concentration and diversification.

This will include examining penalties for media organisations over untruthful material they publish.

“The role of the big players, News Corp, Nine News, Network Ten, Seven West media, and indeed the ABC and SBS, deserve to be scrutinised as part of any such inquiry,” she said.

“The parliament needs to act to ensure greater diversity, more voices not fewer.”

Ms Daniel said her experience as an ABC foreign correspondent in the US during the Trump administration reaffirmed her view of the role media played in the January 6 insurrection.

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