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In today’s climate of multi-million dollar defamation cases, fake news and concerns about new laws related to foreign interference and espionage, managing the Australian Press Council certainly requires a unique set of skills. Luckily, John Pender has them.

When it comes to taking on challenges, the highly emotive task of defining and protecting free speech would probably fall into the “too hard” basket for many. But John Pender thinks otherwise. As executive director of the Australian Press Council, he sees his role as an opportunity to use his legal and professional expertise to benefit Australian society.

For the past three and a half years, Pender has helped the small but influential organisation navigate the increasingly stormy waters of the Australian publishing world as it aims to set standards of practice by the Australian press, manage complaints and protect freedom of speech.

Pender joined the council in May 2014 after 20 years as a barrister and then seven years as in-house counsel for the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). After receiving his BA and LLB from the University of New South Wales, he started his legal career as a solicitor for what is now Norton Rose Fulbright, where his work included defamation claims in television, radio, newspapers and magazines.

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