Treasurer Joe Hockey. Photo: Glenn HuntFederal Treasurer Joe Hockey has been unsuccessful in his bid to have his defamation suit against Fairfax Media heard this year.
Mr Hockey’s senior counsel, Bruce McClintock, told the Federal Court on Thursday that the treasurer had a “two-week window” in November and wanted the case to be heard then.
“It’s important that the vindication is speedy,” Mr McClintock said.
He added Mr Hockey had “significant public responsibilities and duties, like being in parliament”.
Counsel for Fairfax, including junior counsel Sandy Dawson, are not available in November.
“To have Fairfax lose its counsel now would slow the proceedings down, in fact,” Mr Dawson said.
He added that while he agreed with the principle that ”vindication” should be speedy, the statement “presumes a certain outcome”.
Justice Peter Jacobson said that a date early next year would meet the need for a speedy resolution of the case.
The parties agreed that the two-week trial could start on March 9, 2015.
“Those are the dates,” Justice Jacobson said, emphasising that the trial must go ahead on that date.
Mr Hockey is suing Fairfax Media, publisher of The Sydney Morning Herald, over a series of articles on a Liberal fund-raising forum that offered access to him in exchange for donations of thousands of dollars to the forum.
He claims the articles, published in the Herald, The Age and The Canberra Times, conveyed a series of defamatory meanings including that he “accepted bribes paid to influence the decisions he made as Treasurer”.
“I am concerned that this matter remains on the net and the defendants will not take it down,” Mr McClintock said.
Justice Jacobson said that this would no doubt be a matter raised at trial.
It is not yet clear whether a jury will be empanelled for the trial.