The Bush Lawyer's Guide to

Further Information on Litigation Against Public Participation

Defamation Commercial Torts Trade Practices Abuse of Process

A Guide for Political Activists by Dr Greg Ogle

Surviving Suits

A Guide for Political Activists

What you might get sued for

Avoiding defamation suits

Protest risk minimisation

Responding to legal threats

Further information sources

Law Reform

Sport! Having fun with litigation

Being a Bush Lawyer

Bush Lawyer Awards

Threatening Wallpaper


Bush Lawyer Cases & Politics

Beating a SLAPP suit: Animal Lib SA

Gunning for Change: The Need for Public Participation Law Reform

The Gunns Case: Chilling the Environment Movement

Bruce Donald summarises a number of cases of "Defamation Against Public Interest Debate"

Hindmarsh Island - early days

Approaching the Court

This website is authorised by Greg Ogle on behalf of Bush Lawyers Ink, a not for profit legal service brought to you by the legal system's inability to protect the community's right and ability to participate in public debate and protest.


SLAPP suits & Law Reform

George Pring and Penelope Canaan, SLAPPS: Getting Sued for Speaking Out (1st ed, 1996).

The definitive work which defined SLAPP suits (Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation), this contains American case studies and legislation proposals. They have also listed a bibliography of sources for those wanting to do serious research.

Sourcewatch Website page on SLAPPs

An entry point into a growing self-built (Wiki) resource on SLAPPs. Links to the definitive Australian list.

Greg Ogle, GAGGED: The Gunns 20 and other law suits (Envirobook: Sydney 2009)

The inside story of the Hindmarsh Island defamation cases, an Animal Liberation case, and the Gunns 20 law suit.

Liesel Rickarby, "A SLAPP in the Face for Free Speech", New Matilda, 30 January 2010.

A summary of key issues across a range of cases written on the eve of what was going to be the final trial in the Gunns 20 case.

Brian Walters, Slapping on the Writs: Defamation, Developers and Community Action (1st ed, 2003).

The most comprehensive book on SLAPPS in Australia (although focussed mainly on defamation actions) from a Melbourne Senior Counsel and leading figure in Free Speech Victoria. The book also contains model anti-SLAPP legislation.

Bruce Donald, "Defamation Actions Against Public Interest Debate" (Paper delivered to the Free Speech Committee of Victoria  22nd April 1999).

Now a little dated, this was one of the first pieces to put a range of cases together and identify a pattern of suits against activists in Australia, including the importance of sewerage in these cases!

Travis Bover and Mark Parnell, "A Protection of Public Participation Act for South Australia: A Law Reform Proposal"

Contains a useful discussion of why law reform is needed and a summary of such reforms in other jurisdictions, as well as a proposed draft bill for law in Australia. This model would positively establish a right of public participation (as opposed to just limiting the assaults), and is the model preferred by the bush lawyer.

Article 19 - the Global Campaign for Free Expression

Named after Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, this group's website contains a discussion of law reform priciples and lists 19 principles for defamation law reform.

Californian Anti-SLAPP Project

Site contains lots of American information and advice, including the text of the Californian anti-SLAPP legislation, and a Survival Guide for SLAPP Victims (their guide is a bit too deferential and less hands-on than this one, but it has useful info).


Sources on Individual Australian Cases

The List of Australian SLAPP suits

Using the Sourcewatch website and wiki technology, this site is developing into the definitive list of SLAPP suits in each state in Australia. SLAPP suit recipients may like to add their cases or legal threats to the list.

The Gunns Case

Greg Ogle, "Gunns Backs Down", New Matilda, 5 February 2010.

A short summary celebrating the end of the Gunns 20 case and reviewing the disaster it was for Gunns.

Liesel Rickarby, "Gunns 20 Case Goes to Trial", 28 January 2010.

A good summary of the issues the week before the scheduled trial.

Greg Ogle, Gunning for Change: The Need for Public Participation Law Reform, (The Wilderness Society: 2006)

Simon Brown, "My First Lawsuit", Tasmanian Times, 16 April 2006.

Rob White, "Stifling Environmental Dissent: On SLAPPS and Gunns" in Alternative Law Journal, Vol 30:6, December 2005.

Greg Ogle, "Chilling the Environment Movement" in Australian Options, Spring 2005.

On Hindmarsh Island litigation

With over dozen defamation cases against media, activists and individuals (and with others threatened), the Hindmarsh Island bridge saga is a classic study of litigation against community activists. For information and analysis, check out:

Greg Ogle, "Tricky Legal Business: The Impact of Legal Processes on the Campaign Against the Hindmarsh Island Bridge" in Impact, January 1999.

This paper summarises the litigious history, from the activist point of view, of the campaign until 1999. The original paper (reproduced here) was delivered to the 1998 EDO conference.

Greg Ogle, "Defamation Processes and the Hindmarsh Island Bridge Campaign", in Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol 4, No. 26. January 2000.

Points out how the defamation cases surrounding the Hindmarsh Island bridge saga have positioned indigenous people politically and made findings about indigenous people's credibility without ever hearing from them.

Greg Ogle, "Just When You Thought It Was Safe to talk about Hindmarsh Island", in Indigenous Law Bulletin, Vol 5, No. 15. February/March 2002.

A follow-on from the earlier ILB article looking at how the themes of legal discourses and indigenous marginalisation played out in the judgement in Chapmans v Conservation Council & others.

Mark Parnell, "Hindmarsh Island Bridge Defamation Case", Impact, (EDO NSW), 2002. Reproduced on the Conservation Council of SA website.

A "free speech" critique of the judgement in the Conservation Council case.


"Activist gets away with ham campaign", ABC Radio, The Law Report, 9 October 2007.

A discussion of Ralph Hahnheuser winning the Trade Practices Act case brought against him by shipping companies after he put pizza ham in the feed of sheep destined for live export. The discussion has the bush lawyer arguing the civil liberties case, and Simon Ramsay from the Victorian Farmers Federation trying to justify why the Australian farm lobby keeps spending millions of dollars on political cases that get nowhere.

David Marr, "10 million ways to fleece a sheep farmer", Sydney Morning Herald, 7 July 2007.

A very good summary of the end of a huge case brought by woolgrowers against People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and Animal Liberation NSW over the issue of mulesing of sheep. The terms of settlement were a substantial win for the defendants.

Greg Ogle, "Beating a SLAPP suit", Alternative Law Journal, Vol 32, No.2, June 2007.

A summary of the bush-lawyering approach taken and the lessons learned from Animal Liberation SA being sued after a raid on a battery hen shed.

James Prest, "The Muzzling of the Dingo Forest Mob", Chain Reaction, No. 70, 1994.

An old case, but not one recorded in later sources like Walters.

Further Advice Sources

The Complete Activist website put together by the National Association of Community Legal Centres is a good reference point for activist legal advice, as well containing information on a number of relevant campaigns.

Greg Ogle and Mary Heath, "Approaching the Court" in Nonviolence Today, No. 46, September/October, 1994.

This somewhat dated article applies broad political theory categories to attempt to explain and advance activist thinking about how to approach the legal system.

Brian Martin, "How to Make Defamation Threats Backfire" (2005) 27 (1) Australian Journalism Review 157.

Protest and the Law: An Anarchist View , Speech at Adelaide Law Week, 2002.

Remember the bush lawyer's golden rule

Be careful, not silent

Note: This website is inactive and not being maintained. You are welcome to whatever is useful, but no guarantees that it is up to date.