Attorney-General intervenes in discrimination appeal

The state government has intervened in the appeal of a Launceston man who was ordered to issue a public apology for distributing anti-gay flyers. 

The order was made by the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal.

At one point, James William Durston was charged with using a postal service to menace, harass or cause offence, but the charges were eventually dropped.

He was charged alongside former Senate candidate Andrew Scott Roberts.

Mr Durston failed to appear in the Hobart Supreme Court on Wednesday.

Solicitor Paul Turner, appearing for Attorney-General Will Hodgman, told the Hobart Supreme Court that he would be issuing a notice to federal Attorney-General George Brandis, as well as other state and territory Attorneys-General.

This was due to the fact that Mr Durston had raised the matter with the High Court, citing implied freedom of political communication as his defence.


The appellant claims the tribunal’s ruling was unconstitutional. 

“The High Court is obviously preoccupied with other matters at this time,” Mr Turner said.

He added that it was “unlikely” other jurisdictions would involve themselves in the matter.

Justice Michael Brett said Mr Durston’s argument regarding a perceived constitutional breach had “a fairly wide ambit”.

He concluded that the appellant’s point had “no merit at all”.

Pending responses from federal and state jurisdictions, the matter was adjourned until November 10.

In 2015, an anti-discrimination complaint was lodged against the Tasmanian Catholic Church, after it distributed a pamphlet entitled ‘Don’t Mess With Marriage’.