Lawyer and Labor Party member Trevor Poulton was the victim of defamatory comments made by the Prime Minister, accusing him of anti-Semitism after writing a brief on the dual citizenship of Josh Frydenberg. IA was given a copy of a letter written by Trevor to Scott Morrison as a response to the remarks.
22 July 2019
Dear Prime Minister Morrison,
DEFAMATION MATTER — TREVOR POULTON AND SCOTT MORRISON
I refer to your defamatory comments made to the media on 17 July 2019 in response to my ‘Legal Opinion — Frydenberg Case’ dated 11 July 2019, which was addressed to you as Prime Minister and Leader of Liberal Party of Australia.
The legal opinion was emailed to you on the 11th, as well as to various members of the Federal Parliament and to sections of the media. On 15 July 2019, Hugh Riminton, a senior reporter of Ten Eyewitness News, contacted me for an interview to give public exposure to the legal opinion. The interview ran on 16 July 2019.
As a consequence of your comments made about me, I have suffered substantial harm to my character and reputation and to my profession as an Australian Legal Practitioner.
I have practised successfully as a solicitor in various areas of law since 2002. I derive my income from the profession. I have also been a member of the Australian Labor Party for 26 consecutive years and have made a significant contribution to the protection of native forests on public land resulting in the passing of various State legislation and a successful appeal in the Victoria Supreme Court (Court of Appeal) acting on behalf of an environmental activist. I have also been a convenor of an internal ALP campaign to end recreational shooting of native waterbirds, have been elected to various policy committees and am a past President of the ALP Elwood Branch. I am a person of reputable character and have never been threatened with expulsion from the party. I have published a multi-themed literary novel, a collection of poetry and a book on protecting Old-growth forest in Victoria.
A particular community interest for me has been articulating how “political correctness” operates as “political device” in our contemporary democracy to direct and/or oppress constructive discussion and debate. As you would be aware from the legal opinion, I had formed the view that the mishandling of the Frydenberg dual-citizenship case by members of the Federal Parliament exemplified “political correctness” at work. The view was illumined through a historical and legal analysis of the facts surrounding the case.
During the doorstop interview by the media, you were asked a question with reference to Section 44(i) of the Constitution of Australia Act 1900 (Cth) and Joshua Frydenberg MP’s predicament.
Contents of your interview were published by the following media:
- Channel 10 News First on 17 July 2019: ‘Citizenship woes’
- Herald Sun on 19 July 2019: ‘PM angry at court threat’
- J-Wire – Digital Jewish news daily for Australia and New Zealand on 19 July 2019: ‘Dual citizenship challenge again for Frydenberg’
The following is extracted from J-Wire’s coverage of the interview:
Josh Frydenber[g] received full support from Prime Minister Scott Morrison was [sic] at a media doorstop: “Is it time to draw a line under Section 44, and amend the constitution to deal with these issues?”
The Prime Minister answered: “I’ll tell you what it’s a time to draw a line on, and it’s anti-Semitism. I mean, the scourge of anti-Semitic graffiti that we’ve seen in Melbourne just this year, it is absolutely sickening and disgraceful. And for a Holocaust denier and an anti-Semite to seek to progress that agenda by pretending to have some sort of constitutional purity on Josh Frydenberg, I’m just going to call it out for what it is. And I think Australians… I think they would share that. Anti-Semitism has no place in this country.
I mean, I saw also what was happening with the graffiti against our colleague Julian Leeser up in Sydney. It’s sickening. And so, we have no truck with these anti-Semitic thoughts or practices or what they’re about. I mean, he shouldn’t be in the Labor Party for a start, how he’s even in there I’ve got no idea because I know that is as abhorrent in their way of thinking as it is to ours. So I’m calling that what it is. Thanks very much.”
The defamatory imputations, which are all false, were:
- that Trevor Poulton is an anti-Semite;
- that Trevor Poulton is a holocaust denier;
- that Trevor Poulton had an anti-Semitic motive for publishing the ‘Legal Opinion – Frydenberg Case’;
- that Trevor Poulton seeks to progress the scourge of anti-Semitic graffiti in Melbourne;
- that Trevor Poulton has anti-Semitic thoughts and practices anti-Semitism;
- that Trevor Poulton is not fit to be an Australian Legal Practitioner;
- that Trevor Poulton is not fit to be a member of the Australian Labor Party; and
- that Trevor Poulton has published comments that are “abhorrent”.
Further, it was implied that:
- a complaint ought to be made to the Human Rights Commission against Trevor Poulton under Section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth); and
- that Victoria Police ought to investigate Trevor Poulton under the Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 (Vic) for breaches of the Act.
The defamatory and false comments made by you were totally unjustified and are disgusting.
I hereby request that you immediately cease and desist from making false and defamatory statements against me.
I further request that you immediately withdraw the defamatory and false comments through the publication of a Prime Ministerial Press Release with a copy to be emailed to me.
I note that Parliament resumes in both Houses on 22 July 2019. Whilst you may have Parliamentary privilege in the House of Representatives, being an immunity from the ordinary law, please be advised that any further defamatory statements regarding my character will aggravate the defamation and therefore I respectfully request that you do not defame me in the House during any sitting.
I look forward to your response.
Due to the fact that I will be issuing proceedings for defamation (in an orderly fashion) in the Federal Court of Australia, it is not appropriate for me to make any comments other that what has already been stated in my letter to Prime Mininster Scott Morrison.
EXCLUSIVE | A legal bid to take the Josh Frydenberg to the High Court is well advanced with the aim of having the Treasurer kicked out of Federal Parliament for being a dual citizen.— 10 News First (@10NewsFirst) July 16, 2019
#auspol @hughriminton pic.twitter.com/7X1PlvHXcz
Trevor Poulton is a lawyer, author of books The Holocaust Denier and Brick Through The Window (Poems from the 1990s), champion for environmental causes and has been a member of the Labor Party for 26 years.
Josh Frydenberg's citizenship challenged by constituent who feels 'betrayed' on climate https://t.co/AC9Lcn3saz— The Guardian (@guardian) July 31, 2019
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