Media Release

Greens to put brakes on bullying developers

by Greens' MLC Mark Parnell

December 8th, 2006 11:00 am

Greens MLC Mark Parnell has introduced a Private Members Bill to prevent developers from using the legal system to intimidate citizens exercising their right to free speech.

The Protection of Public Participation Bill will help to legally protect South Australians who engage in public debate on public interest issues, by preventing the use of SLAPPs (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation).*

The Bill was introduced the same day as South Australia topped a national list of civil litigation cases which have limited free speech, prepared by the US based Centre for Media and Democracy. South Australia has more listings than any other state – 21 cases and 8 legal threats.

“Unfortunately, South Australia has the unenviable reputation of being the SLAPP capital of Australia.

“The right to free speech is essential to a healthy democracy. We urgently need law reform now to protect the public’s right to engage in public debate.

“When bullying developers and their lawyers use the legal system to prevent citizens from speaking out in the public interest we all suffer” Mr Parnell said.

*A SLAPP suit is a civil lawsuit brought in relation to a political issue which has the effect of silencing community debate or constraining political activity. The cases can range from defamation cases to the use of corporate torts like interference with business.

More information on SLAPPs

Authorised by M. Parnell, Parliament House Adelaide.