Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Taking Andrew Bolt on through the Courts - Part 10: David Barrow's Court Report No. 7 #indigenous #raceissues #courtproceedings



VID770/2010 Pat Eatock v Andrew Bolt & HWT
Wed 30 March 2011

The case resumed this morning with the continued cross-examination of Mr Andrew Bolt by senior co-counsel Mr Herman Borenstein SC for the applicant group members.

Mr Bolt was presented again with the articles that are the subject of the proceedings and was asked to explain his intention in making some of the statements in them.

At times Mr Bolt did not always stay confined to the questions that were put to him by counsel, and substantially repeated some of his testimony of the previous day.

Mr Bolt expressed his personal view that race is a fluid concept that means different things to different people. He agreed that it could be defined as a cultural identity, but certainly not in terms of eugenics. He was of the view that it was not wise for a court to define in a fixed sense what it is to be an Aborigine, although he could see the value in having a definition of Aboriginality in a restricted way for the purpose of determining eligibility to benefits or to stand for election. Mr Bolt also emphasised again that it was his personal view that race was a term he felt uncomfortable with and to make it a generally fixed definition would be divisive.

Mr Bolt repeatedly said that it was his view that a person identifying as an Aboriginal was making a choice, and that with that choice come consequences.

Mr Bolt also said that because the subject of his articles have a public dimension that he could comment as he liked -- or he had thought he could (presumably before these racial discrimination proceedings were brought against him and HWT). He said this was all part of a public conversation.

Mr Bolt said that his articles were the result of his wide and extensive researches. The sources that Mr Bolt referenced for the articles were said to be listed in an appendix to his witness statement, which was tendered and taken as read at the start of his personal evidence yesterday.

As a reality of writing columns that are restricting to about 1000 words, Mr Bolt said that in the tyranny of that defined space, as he put it, he needed to make the material fit and did so in a concise but always fair and accurate way. He added that he did have some more space for his online writings than he had imposed on him by the newspaper editors for his printed columns, and that his greater readership was trending more towards the online materials he thought.

Mr Bolt said that he wrote his articles in what he intended to be an interesting way, which would provoke thought, and that he covered issues and expressed a view that was not often expressed because people could feel intimidated to do so.

Some aspects of his writing was a joke or satirical he said, and may involve confronting people with their own contradictions which many of those people did not like and so tried to silence.

With respect to the Aboriginality identification issues in his articles that were the subject of these proceedings he said that he felt he needed to make some points of public comment to show the absurdity to which we have descended.

Mr Bolt said that he believed it was wrong that plum jobs (as he put it) are reserved for Aboriginals only.

Mr Bolt referred to the Welcome to Country cultural practice of Aborigines as being a race-based entrenching of division that he was opposed to.

Much of Mr Borenstein’s cross examination focused on putting to Mr Bolt that the intend of Mr Bolt in writing the articles included depicting some of the people therein in (1) a gratuitous or derogatory light (which Mr Bolt denied) and (2) also in a way that Mr Bolt would have apprehended would likely have caused offence or insult to those people (which Mr Bolt admitted in the context of his intent to make some points in a public conversation on the issues raised in the articles).

The proceedings were adjourned by Justice Bromberg for a lunch recess.

[David Barrow of Melbourne] 

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