Publication of public documents

Proposal 10–5 The new Act should provide for a defence of publication of public documents.

10.53 The defence should be similar in terms to the defence for publication of public documents in the UDL which attaches privilege to the publication of public documents including court judgements, and reports and papers tabled in Parliament, and Parliamentary voting records, where the copies are fair and accurate.[52] The ALRC considers the meaning of ‘public documents’ in defamation legislation would apply to this defence, though the ALRC leaves this task to drafters.

10.54 Access to public documents supports a transparent and open government and judicial system. This proposal is consistent with the ALRC’s Terms of Reference for this Inquiry which requires consideration of the effect of a cause of action on the necessity of balancing privacy with fundamental values including freedom of expression and open justice.

10.55 The NSWLRC argued that the consideration of public interest in their recommended statutory cause of action provided adequate protection for publication of public documents and fair report of proceedings of public concern.[53] A number of media stakeholders expressed their support for the availability of this defence.[54]