top of page


Chris Johnston has been an Australian journalist for many years, writing articles for the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald.

Chris describes himself is a senior writer at The Age writing on anything and everything including sport, music, Australian culture and people, urban and suburban affairs, art and crime. He writes 'The Crate' column in EG every Friday about lost and found music, is a judge on The Australian Music Prize (AMP) and contributes to Good Weekend magazine and The Melbourne Magazine.

Interestingly Mr. Johnston has taken to writing several recent articles around social networking and the phenomenon of internet trolling.

His article "Dark Side of the net" appears more so to show up his lack of journalistic talents in my eyes and goes on to prove he may be an "Intellectual prostitute" in the context of that famous speech by "John Swinton" in the late 1890's, that went on to declare his life time career as a senior journalist for the New York times, as one of writing what he was told rather than any attempt to remain a truly unbiased and educated journalist.

One might wish to compliment a journalist for writing a timely and educated article about the dangers of the internet, even more so when that article was covering internet trolling/online bullying. But the article did not in my eyes prove any resemblance of authentic journalism in its true sense.

It could be easier to conclude it was a biased article written to attack the good name of a few activists on behalf of his supposed superiors or maybe for a mate, with the only talent being a vain attempt to skip around defamation laws, as if he may have been saying "I can degrade who ever I like, and do so in such a way no one can sue me", I will let you be the judge.

I would prefer to be congratulating Chis on the article as one who has worked with a number of authorities and written my own articles on the issue of cyber bullying/trolling, in the hope of finding a way to implement accountability for ones on line actions.

I have been a victim as have many of my friends and family, the direct result of being a political candidate and a very vocal spokesperson for a variety of issues over the past decade, so yes I am expected to wear a variety of personal attacks, but where does one draw the line?

The most devastating of attacks on my good name, sadly came from another activist, one whom I had held in high esteem, Debra Tranter of Oscars law, Debra is an activist tackling animal welfare from the stand point of puppy farming, where my activism in the same arena has been all about legislative reform in relation to animal welfare law.

It seems even though we are both animal lovers and have a high regard to the best interests of those with out a voice, my passion is value of life for all, including we horrible humans, which appears to have divided the two of us, I asked that people not take vigilante action against a person who had been convicted of animal abuse, and I did this because she was a single mother at home with 2 disadvantaged young children.

I also knew the case in question in some detail, but had opted to defend the children not the woman's past actions, simply because not one person has the right to be judge and jury, especially where there actions had the ability to hurt the innocent.

With in minutes of asking people on Oscars laws Face Book page, not to attack the woman in her home, I received message after message that Debra Tranter had taken to twitter to call me an animal abuser and a supporter of animal abuse.

The commonsense approach was to give Debra a call and clear the air, but she answered and said she was busy and would get back to me.

I am going into this story in brief, because of the very fact Chris Johnston's article, not only names me in person, but goes on to paint me as a troll in my eyes and those of my friends and supporters, apparently the story was told to him by Miss Tranter, because it covers the same reasons she finds adequate to attack my good name, even thought the context of the story appears to frown upon cyber bullying.

Debras angry tweets and online attacks on me never stopped, they went on for months, and expanded to attack my friends and family, through a federal and state campaign as an Independent candidate, months and months of nasty attacks calling me a supporter of animal abuse, a murderer and a pedophile and supporter of.

I was receiving calls from the media, something political candidates always have their hands up for, but not when the calls are the result of accusations of animal abuse, supporting puppy farmers and child abuse, none of which had any truth to them what so ever.

While I was out doing rescues, on line I was an animal killer, while I was speaking at rallies on child protection, on line I was associated with pedophilia.

Then I read Chris Johnston's article and he too has undermined my good name, as if somehow I had provoked these attacks. I had no option but to question Miss Tranter's motives, write an article to tell my side of the story and to block her, this from a man who writes an article about the dark side of trolling and cyber bullying.

Not only did I have to endure months of cyber bullying by Tranter, I had to also endure hundreds of attacks from her supporters, and it appears Mr. Johnston is one of them, yet never did he pick up the phone as one would expect from a supposed investigative journalist, just like his good friend Debra, there was never any need for the truth or my side of the story to enter the debate.

I had spent over a decade of my life trying to lead by setting a good example, in the hope of doing so from parliament, only to have my good name and that of my friends and family dragged through the gutter all because I dare speak up in defense of children.

The darkest side of the net, is those who attack others with out provocation, that seek to harm others with their words, and even worse when they cant get to their chosen victim, they go after their children, friends and family.

I have never backed animal abuse, I rescue and run a sanctuary, I support many in animal welfare and have been spokesperson for animal shelters, I do not shoot animals for sport and have spoken out against it.

I have spoken and and held rallies all over the country in pursuit of improved animal welfare legislation and child protection laws. from the Mulligan report to holding the states largest child protection rallies, so am I an activist being target online as covered by Chis Johnstons articles as a victim, or an I a troll because one of his friends says so, I will let you be the judge.

Debra Tranters hundred of tweets saying "Only animal abusers, puppy farmers and pedophiles would vote for me" are a disgrace, and Johnston's support of her position, by way of the words in his article, in my mind contradicts his own article.

Both Tranter and Johnston brought up I was once a One Nation candidate, knowing very well, I was only associated with the party for a few months out of 15 years in the political arena, they both bring up the fact that a lawyer who helped me once, later was exposed as having been charged with being in possession of photos of children in his computer, as if somehow I ought to have done back ground checks on lawyers before I accept pro bono support,

I am not responsible for the actions of others, even more so when those actions were years before we even met, protecting innocent children is no an offence.

The article written by Johnston may have appeared to be about the "Dark Side of the internet" in relation to internet attacks on advocates, yet by the inclusion of my name simply because I questioned the motives of a person attacking my friends, family and good name, makes a mockery of the whole article. The wording may skip around defamation law, but indeed was designed to bring my name into question

I emailed Chris to explain what I had been through, and to ask him to take down his articles or print a retraction, his reply was that his lawyers had said the article was fine, so he may have been expecting trouble when he wrote the article, which says a lot. The day I started writing this response, I immediately received an email demanding I took this down. Interesting that a supposed investigative journalist does very little research other then ensuring he cant be sued, then is quick to react when my side of the story might reach a handful of people.

Chris Johnstons article had the ability to reach millions of readers, a power that ought to be accompanied by a little more accountability, considering the damage he has done to my good name. 

So back to that famous speech by John Swinton about "Intellectual prostitutes" is Chis indeed one of them, or is he just an example of what journalism has become again, I will let you be the judge of that.

Mark Aldridge

bottom of page