Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has publicly confirmed that he is the cabinet minister accused of the rape of a 16-year-old girl more than 30 years ago but has strongly denied any wrongdoing.
TW: Please be aware that this article contains content around sexual assault and rape.
The Attorney-General has denied that he assaulted the woman more than 30 years ago and said that the allegations were never put to him. In a press conference, Christian Porter commented: “What has been put in various forms and allegations simply did not happen. In this last week I have tried to do what I have tried to do all of my life, [which is to] respect the rules and the processes and the law.”
Mr Porter said he has been subjected to a “whisper campaign” and that, had he been approached, he would have said that “nothing in the allegations that have been printed [by media] has ever happened”.
He added that he waited to come forward until after NSW Police had concluded their consideration of the matter. He said that while he stayed silent, he has been “subjected to the wildest.... accusations that I can remember in Australian politics”.
The Australian Women Lawyers (AWL) and president Leah Marrone have called for an urgent independent investigation into the allegations.
“Until such investigation is conducted, the question remains as to whether the Attorney is an appropriately fit and proper person to hold that office. This uncertainty undermines the credibility and operation of the Australian legal system given the community’s expectations of the legal profession and the Attorney’s role in upholding the rule of law,” Ms Marrone said.
On why he will not resign, Mr Porter said: “If I stand down from my position because of an allegation that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job and their life’s work based on nothing more than an accusation.”
He will be taking some leave for his own mental health.
Last week, an anonymous 30-page letter was sent to several members of Parliament alleging that a cabinet minister had raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988, well before he entered politics. The woman in question died last year and NSW Police said the investigation into the matter had been closed because they had “insufficient admissible evidence”.
Many ministers spent the last few days publicly calling for him to come forward, with some alleging that “every man and his dog” in Parliament already knew his identity. His position as a cabinet minister moving forward has also been called into question.
Speaking to Sky News, Labor’s shadow minister Kristina Keneally said that there was a “case to be answered for” on whether he was still a fit and proper person to be a cabinet minister.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has also backed calls from friends of the woman for an inquiry into the allegation or an alternative “arms-length” investigation and said that it will not go away. He said, like the inquiry into former High Court justice Dyson Heydon, it needed the same attention.
“It is very clear that, in my mind, this will require further leadership and action,” Mr Albanese said.
It comes after Mr Porter was accused of a long, storied history of sexist and inappropriate behaviour towards women in a Four Corners report in November last year. Barrister Kathleen Foley told the program that he was “deeply sexist and actually misogynistic in his treatment of women” during his university days.
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