VID770/2010 Pat Eatock v Andrew Bolt & HWT
Tue 29 March 2011
In the later morning and after the lunch recess, cross-examination of Mr Andrew Bolt was commenced and conducted by senior co-counsel Mr Herman Borenstein SC for the applicant group members.
Mr Bolt acknowledged that he had an obligation to check the accuracy of the facts on which his publications were based, and also stated that his research was thorough and diligent.
Mr Bolt said that he did not contact any of the persons featured in the 4 articles that are the subject of these proceedings because he was confident that taking material that these people had already put into the public arena would be accurate.
Mr Bolt asserted that his blog is dedicated to exposing material that is factually inaccurate on matters of public importance.
Mr Bolt denied that he made any accusations that any of the named group members, such as Bindi Cole, were not genuine about identifying as Aboriginal. Mr Bolt also denied that he was making any accusations that any of them did so to access benefits unfairly such as financial gains or career advancement.
However, Mr Bolt, did say that assuming an Aboriginal identity could be done, in his opinion, for a political reasons or agenda, or due to the person being self-absorbed -- and that through making this choice certain consequences are available after that (without specifying what those consequences might be).
Such movements in society he says he has become aware of through his research of trends or fashions of our times.
Mr Bolt said that he was driven by a sense of injustice that resources available to Aboriginal people should go towards those in poverty or lacking opportunity for such things as a good education.
Mr Bolt also said that he was a person who attacked racial divisiveness as his way of attacking racism.
Mr Bolt also then sought to make his point (offensively many in the gallery intimated) by pointing out Aboriginal activist Mr Geoff Clark in court and saying that he was a racist. Off Mr Borenstein objections, and despite Mr Young for Bolt trying to calm things down, Justice Bromberg urged Mr Bolt to give his evidence directly without seeking to use inadmissible analogies concerning specific individuals in the public gallery who would likely take offence from such comments.
Mr Bolt apologised to Mr Clark of sorts by saying that this point was not personal, and noted, for what record or purpose it is not sure, that he actually liked Mr Clark and had shared a drink with him once. It was an unusual court moment.
Mr Bolt admitted that his articles could cause offence and insult by confronting the people depicted therein with the consequences of their actions, and he added that he hoped that those people would then be remorseful as a result.
Mr Bolt stated that it was his view that if one participates in public debate then one must be prepared to face criticism and that this is something that he is always prepared to do. As Mr Bolt put it, this is the lifeblood of democracy in society. He also added that when entering the public arena one must be prepared for disagreement, which can be bruising.
Mr Bolt said that he did not believe that there is in fact a racial definition that divides us as we are all fundamentally human beings. We are all polyglots he said.
...the trial continues with more personal evidence from Mr Bolt expected to be adduced over the rest of Wednesday...
[David Barrow of Melbourne]