Yet the same week that Haugen testified before the US Congress, both Morrison and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce responded by talking about defamation. It almost felt like they were changing the topic, though Joyce had personal reasons to bring it up, because his daughter has been the subject of scurrilous anonymous gossip.
Despite Morrison saying this week that he wanted these laws “to protect women”, defamation is a tool mostly used by the rich and powerful, especially politicians and especially men.
This year alone, Defence Minister Peter Dutton, former attorney-general Christian Porter, federal MP Andrew Laming and NSW deputy premier John Barilaro have all sued for defamation and either settled out of court or won. Greens Senator Sarah Hanson Young and former treasurer Joe Hockey have also successfully sued for defamation in the past.
Dutton even suggested a few months ago that politicians should have access to a fund of public money to pay for defamation cases as a workplace entitlement.