NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman (Image: AAP/Joel Carrett)

This is part two of a two-part look at defamation reform. Read part one here.

Defamation law, like much of the law, is a compromise between conflicting rights -- specifically, the right to free speech and the right to a good reputation. As we all learn the first time we express our honest opinion about bedtime, free speech is never unqualified.

Australia's defamation law struck its peculiar balance heavily in favour of reputation in a time when defamation took only two forms: publication in print (libel) and speech to a live audience (slander). It did not contemplate forms of communication like radio, let alone the internet.