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March 28th 2012 print

Michael Connor

Muzzling Andrew Bolt

When Andrew Bolt attempted to correct a journalist’s error he was prevented from doing so, for legal reasons.

Bizarre. A journalist makes an error about Andrew Bolt in an article about Aboriginality. Andrew Bolt attempted to correct the error and, for legal reasons, was prevented from doing so. Farewell free speech.

Saturday 24 March:

I am unable to comment

by Andrew Bolt

A story in The Australian today.

Another story in The Australian.

A story somewhere else

(No comments.)

Source: Andrew Bolt’s blog

Wednesday 28 March:

I cannot say what I cannot say, and why I cannot

by Andrew Bolt

Absurd. Legal advice confirms I am not allowed to note that an error which a newspaper piece on the weekend alleged I made was not an error at all, as the author has since privately conceded.

I cannot say what the alleged error is and why it is no error. I cannot quote the article that wrongly accused me, and I cannot quote another published article that quotes the woman I allegedly mischaracterised.

Of the post I submitted for legalling, 15.5 of the 22 paragraphs, including the correction of the error, have had to be removed for legal reasons, reducing it to utter banality.

The restrictions on freedom of speech now include being unable to correct errors, state facts and quote people in their own published words. Even more Kafkaesque, I cannot even tell you why I cannot say and what the topic is. The state removes the right to speak, but also removes the right to note what it’s actually done.

Australia, 2012. 

Source: Andrew Bolt’s blog

This is the comment made by journalist Caroline Overington in The Australian:

Bolt did indeed make mistakes in those articles: he described the mother of Sydney academic and writer Anita Heiss, for example, as "part-Aboriginal" when in fact Heiss’s mother, Elsie, was born to two Aboriginal parents at Erambie Aboriginal Station near Cowra, NSW.

This is from the article Bolt linked to on Saturday. In the Catholic Weekly (20 August, 2006) Elsie Heiss talked about her background and clearly alluded to her racially mixed parentage:

Elsie was born into the Wiradjuri nation of NSW, as the sixth of eight children. “Both my parents were Catholic,” she says. “My mother was brought up in a Catholic home and my father was from an Irish Catholic background. 

UPDATE: But it might not be what Elsie Heiss meant. See Anita Heiss: “Where I began…”


Anita Heiss on Twitter:

both my grandparents on mums side Aboriginal. Grandmother stolen and removed to Cootamundra Aboriginal Home.

Caroline Overington on Twitter, in a discussion as to whether an error had been made:

it’s not that simple. I share Andrew’s concern at not being able to say what he wants to say, which seems his right. 


From Justice Bromberg’s judgment in Eatock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103:

Ms Heiss is an author who lives in New South Wales. Ms Heiss gave evidence that she is and has always been Aboriginal. Her maternal great-grandmother was Aboriginal, as was her maternal grandmother. Both her maternal grandmother and great aunt were part of the Stolen Generation and were removed from their families along with other relatives. Ms Heiss’s mother is Aboriginal. Her father was not Aboriginal, he was born in Austria. 


From Justice Bromberg’s judgment in Eatock v Bolt [2011] FCA 1103:

[Anita Heiss] also points to a number of factual errors in the Articles which she found offensive, including Mr Bolt’s assertion that her mother is only part-Aboriginal. 


Anita Heiss writes:

My maternal grandfather, James Andrew Williams, was born in 1900 and was a labourer from Brungle, near Tumut, New South Wales. He is described as a ‘Wiradjuri warrior’ by my mother. He was a man who fought hard to keep his family close and to protect my grandmother under appallingly degrading and difficult circumstances. Although Catholic, he was initiated through traditional sacred men’s business, and spirituality was a big part of his life. Mum says he was a great storyteller and knew much about the bush life and traditional ways. Mum says most of her cultural identity was given to her by my grandfather.

Source: Anita Heiss, Am I Black Enough For You? (Random House, 2012)


UPDATE  (Thursday 5 April):

Andrew Bolt writes:

There is another side, but you cannot hear it

The ABC declares:

You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

But what conversation is it when one particular point of view now cannot be advanced (or at least not by me)?

(No comments or conversation, please.)


Why ask the question [Am I Black Enough For You?], when you’ve helped to make sure some are not permitted to answer? 

Source: Andrew Bolt’s blog 

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