Friday 7 December 2007

The opinion you might find difficult to access

Bryan Law self proclaimed free thinker, and free speaker explains about his recent attempts to tell his story, with the threat of the Mayor's legal action...

Last month I wrote a piece for CairnsBlog, published in 2 parts, November 8 and 9, about how Kevin Byrne became Mayor of Cairns, and what happened in the 2000 and 2004 local government elections. It was published after comment and correction by Kevin Byrne, through his assistant Dennis Quick.

I’ve written two subsequent opinion pieces, the first about why Kevin Byrne is contra indicated as Mayor of Cairns, and the second about how to defeat Kevin Byrne and Dis Unity in the March 2008 local government elections.

However, you won’t be reading those pieces on CairnsBlog because Cairns Mayor Kevin Byrne and his personal assistant Dennis Quick threatened yet more legal action if CairnsBlog publishes them. Here’s a copy of the e-mail communication to date between myself and Dennis Quick re: Part 2 of “The Devil We Know”.

  • From: Bryan Law []
    Sent: Thursday, 22 November 2007 2:54 PM
    To: Quick Dennis
    Subject: RE: Cairns City Council Comments Form

    Hi Dennis,

    Here’s a continuation of my writing for CairnsBlog about Kevin and his administration.

    This writing is all based on my personal experience of Kevin’s behaviour, and is submitted to Kevin, through you, for any comments or corrections the mayor may wish to make.

    Please notice that all corrections of fact he wished to make regarding the last piece were incorporated in the finished article. The same will occur this time.

    Responses by close of business Monday 26 November please.


  • From: Quick Dennis []
    Sent: Thursday, 22 November 2007 3:26 PM
    To: Bryan Law
    Subject: RE: Cairns City Council Comments Form

    Mr Law,

    There are so many errors of fact and clearly defamatory assertion within this article that I refuse to edit it or otherwise become complaisant in your efforts.

    Kind Regards

    Dennis Q

    From: Bryan Law []
    Sent: Thursday, 22 November 2007 3:46 PM
    To: Quick Dennis
    Subject: RE: Cairns City Council Comments Form

    Hi Dennis,

    I’m not asking you to edit it, or become complicit in its publication. You’re entitled to become as complaisant as you like.

    You are the mayor’s nominated contact. Through you I’m asking the mayor to inform me about any errors of fact so they can be corrected. If he chooses not to do so, that’s his business, but I would certainly raise his failure to respond as part of my defence to any litigation. If you choose not to inform him, I guess that’s a dereliction of your duty, and your responsibility.

    Remember this article is based on personal knowledge of events I witnessed, and on conversations with CCC staff, along with a reasonable analysis of what those events mean in relation to the administration of Cairns City Council. As I understand it, such commentary falls within the constitutionally protected rights of Australian Citizens to discuss matters of politics and government. Sending it to the mayor for comment and correction is part of publishing the material in a reasonable manner.

    Would you please either:

    (a) Forward the material to the Mayor for comment as requested, or

    (b) Accept personal responsibility for failing to correct errors and negotiate a reasonable publication.

    I will forward the article separately to the Mayor, through the CCC web site. There is nothing personal in this. It’s a formal contact with the Mayor.


    From: Quick Dennis []
    Sent: Thursday, 22 November 2007 3:54 PM
    To: Bryan Law
    Subject: RE: Cairns City Council Comments Form

    1. I have informed the Mayor.

    2. The correction of errors of fact and issues regarding defamatory material are not the responsibility of either myself or the Mayor, in particular, given that you chose to print such corrections in a previous article in such a manner as to distort their intent.

    3. If the material in its present form is published in any manner, the Mayor and I both reserve our rights to take any actions deemed appropriate.

    Dennis Quick


CairnsBlog isn’t in a position to risk the expense that a defamation action can bring. Even if a defamation suit is without merit, it costs a defendant thousands of dollars at the front end, significant time and attention spent on urgent demands, and a high degree of uncertainty/risk in relation to wealth and reputation.

As I understand it, the Mayor's recent defamation action against CairnsBlog has cost in excess of $2,000. His was the path of prudent risk management. The risk of defamation action can be an effective silencer of public discussion and debate.

The way that threats of defamation action in 2004 silenced CAFNEC and SOS concerning the visual impacts and safety of the False Cape site. The developer more recently imposed a heavy cost on Steven Nowakowski the damages and injunctions imposed by other civil Supreme Court action. Skyrail and Port Hinchinbrook developers pioneered this kind of strategy in Queensland twelve years ago, and it seems difficult to counter.

I have long been an advocate of free speech, and of judicial process. I am happy to be sued by Kevin Byrne (well by anybody really. I’m a courtroom slut!). I look forward to my days in Court. (I will need to find some other forum upon which to publish my opinion). Any suggestions?

I believe that what I’ve written about Kevin Byrne is an accurate, balanced and relevant opinion about how the mayor’s character and behavior shapes his administration and policies to the detriment of Cairns. I’m an Australian citizen living and dying in Cairns.

I believe I have a right to publish and discuss my opinion as part of the election campaign in February and March 2008. I don’t want a racist, hectoring, growth-at-any-cost future for Cairns or my family. I want a change in the Cairns Regional Council’s administration.

I believe that Australian voters are mature enough and sensible enough to evaluate political opinions for themselves, and that neither Kevin Byrne nor anyone else is entitled to stifle the freedom of political speech in our Australian democracy.

For all these reasons, and because I’ve learned over 30 years of activism how to stick up for myself, I’m going to publish my opinion pieces in January of 2008, on a forum which I’ll create myself, and for which I’ll take sole responsibility. I will not be silenced by Kevin Byrne. I will say what I have to say, and if Kevin takes me to Court for that then I’ll have him in the witness box to verify the truth of my claims about him. Wot Fun!

I will prove that my opinion was reasonable. I believed my information to be reasonably correct, and published in a reasonable manner, giving the opportunity of comment and correction, with compelling public interest in the matter under discussion because of the Constitutional requirement for free and fair elections, or at least I’ll give it a bloody good go!

If you’re interested in being kept informed, send an e-mail with "free speech" in the subject line.


KitchenSlut said...

I certainly understand why he would not wish to appear complaisant .....

complaisant: showing a cheerful willingness to do favors for others; "to close one's eyes like a complaisant husband whose wife has taken a lover"

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading more of Bryan Law's ill informed diatribes, and the ensuing court actions.