FEDERAL Liberal MP Dave Sharma has had defamation proceedings against him over a tweet accusing former federal Labor MP Melissa Parke of antisemitism discontinued in the Federal Court.
Parke launched court proceedings in January this year over an April 2019 tweet by the former Australian ambassador to Israel, which accused her of “antisemitism and trafficking in conspiracy theories”.
The tweet was in response to an article headlined “Melissa Parke quits as Labor’s Curtin ‘star candidate’ over Israel remarks”, where it was revealed Parke accused Israel of a “fully fledged system of apartheid” in a speech to Palestinian supporters last year.
Parke withdrew from the election race as Labor’s candidate for the WA seat of Curtin shortly after the comments were made public.
“My views are well known. But I don’t want them to be a running distraction from electing a Labor government,” she said at the time.
The Federal Court on Wednesday dismissed Parke’s defamation action against Sharma, with Justice Anthony Besanko ruling Parke was entitled to take up an earlier settlement offer from the Liberal MP, despite initially rejecting the offer.
Each party must pay their own costs under the arrangement.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Sharma said he was “pleased” the action was dismissed.
“It is a defeat for Ms Parke and all those like her who would seek to stifle political debate in this country and shut down differing viewpoints. It is a victory for free speech,” Sharma said.
Stating that Parke’s action was “a clear attempt to silence people who have the audacity to criticise or disagree with her viewpoint”, Sharma said, “I had no intention of giving in to such intimidatory tactics.”
He added, “I stand by my comments that Melissa Parke’s inflammatory speech trafficked in antisemitism and conspiracy theories. In a free society, remarks such as these should always warrant scrutiny and criticism.
“I will continue to stand up and speak out against antisemitism in all its manifestations and attacks on the Jewish community. Such discourse has no place in Australia and should not be tolerated.”