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Bret Christian's speech at 'The Mickelberg Stitch' Book Launch - 12/08/2002
Thank you all for coming to the official launch of The Mickelberg Stitch. It is an important occasion.

My name in Bret Christian. I'm a journalist and a friend of Avon's for 25 years, long before the mint swindle. Way back then Avon was publishing a suburban newspaper that had the journalistic guts to make the rest of Perth's press look like an arm of government.
No target was too big, too important or too powerful for Avon to take on.
If the light of publicity needed to be shone into some dark corner, Avon and his little paper were in there with their searchlight.
Of course in no time he was tangled up in legal red tape, but with persistence and tenacity, he came through in the end.

It may seem odd to launch a book 17 years after it as first published, but The Mickelberg Stitch is no ordinary book.

There are many good reasons this book did not have an official launch in 1985. For a start, it was pretty hard to launch a book in the middle of the night at Perth Airport. What happened was that the original edition of the book was printed in Singapore.

The book was much-anticipated. The rumours in Perth about the dynamite it contained were already around, but where were the books? Turns out it missed being loaded on the plane. I think Avon and his ever-loyal distributor Charlie Thomas were spotted jumping up and down on the runway shouting at the night sky.

That was the least of their troubles. Within a week The Mickelberg Stitch was the subject of a flurry of legal injunctions and was banned from every bookshop. People interstate were never given the chance to read it.

The first defamation writ against Avon personally was issued by a detective named Tony Lewendowski.

I think it's Avon's never-say die attitude and sense of humour that have enabled him to survive so far.
To survive death by 1000 courts, literally. The Mickelberg Stitch launched 75 separate court actions, which have now been
settled. Because he could only rarely afford a lawyer, Avon represented himself in court more than 1000 times.

The lucky few readers who got in early and bought a copy of The Stitch before the book was banned were riveted, fascinated and appalled by its contents.

As a journalist, it struck me what a superb work in investigative journalism this book is. Ten years ago I nominated The Mickelberg Stitch and its sequel, Split Image, for a Walkley Award, the highest journalism award in Australia. But no-one wanted to know.
The Mickelberg Stitch is still as fresh and relevant as the day it was written.

Avon's commitment and enthusiasm to getting the truth out there is an inspiration to us all.

It is a direct result of The Mickelberg Stitch that Mr Lewendowski has made his amazing confession.
If anyone can tell me a more stunning outcome in the past 100 years, I would like to hear about it.

Avon's peculiar Irish enthusiasm and excitability have sometimes got him into hot water. We'll find out how hot and how deep when he is sentenced in the Full Court of Western Australia on Thursday.

But our society badly needs its Avon Lovells to keep it honest.
They are the canaries in our coal mine - if we let them die un-noticed, we are all finished.