Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Lange V Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation

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Lange v Australian Broadcasting Corporation (1997) 189 CLR 520 is a High Court of Australia case that deals with the implied freedom of political communication in the Australian Constitution.


The plaintiff, David Lange, who was a New Zealand Prime Minister, was the subject of a report on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation current affairs program Four Corners. He brought defamation proceedings in respect of that broadcast.


Implied freedom of political communication

In a unanimous judgment, the Court sought to clarify the interaction between the implied freedom of political communication and defamation laws, and the applicability of the implied freedom to state as well as commonwealth matters. The implied freedom was held to be an ongoing freedom, and not limited to election periods. The freedom's purpose is grounded on the functioning of democratic and responsible government, requiring freedom of communication between the voters and their representatives. The continuous nature of the freedom is justified by the concept of representative government, requiring the freedom to operate continuously, and not merely during election periods.

The implied freedom was held to be a negative right, not a grant of a free-standing positive right, and operated chiefly as a restraint on executive and legislative power to the extent that such power would burden the implied freedom. The Court thus overturned its earlier decisions in Theophanous v Herald &...... ...
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