What to do with Christian Porter

By March 10, 2021Health, Politics, Society

The case of Christian Porter is a difficult one. He is the Commonwealth’s Attorney-General, and it is said that thirty or so years ago, when he was seventeen, he raped a sixteen–year old girl who was also part of a debating team. The girl killed herself many years later. She did report all this much later to the NSW police, who took no action, partly because the alleged rape happened a long time ago, partly because she made no sworn statement, and partly because of her assumed mental condition at the time of the police interviews. It was not long after those interviews that she took her own life. Mr Porter has consistently and vehemently denied that any such sexual assault took place. Two issues are important. The first is whether or not anything of that kind occurred, and what should be done about it now. The second is what the Attorney-General should do about it, perhaps more — what should the Prime Minister and his colleagues do about it.

As to the first issue, we will never know the truth. There are far too many unknowns, and no way of resolving them. Was there intercourse at all? If there were, did it have any element of consent, afterwards retracted? Was it plain straightforward penetration against the will of the girl? Why did she not take action as soon as practical after the event? Why did she wait for a couple of decades and more to take her life? What was her mental condition when she made her statements to the police? And so on. There is no judicial  vehicle that can be used to sort out these questions and arrive at a finding. At least, no ordinarily available vehicle, like a court. But the taking of a life, and the prominence of the alleged rapist, mean that the case cannot just be dismissed out of hand.

The Attorney-General put forward an interesting, indeed provocative, statement in his defence, as to his decision not to resign, which was that if he resigned, given the impossibility of any way of resolving his innocence, then anyone in a position like his could be stripped from office without the ordinary response of innocence presumed before trial. I was struck by that, and what follows are my thoughts on it. In the first place I think it is important to say that women are overwhelmingly the victims in all sexual assault events and their chances of being believed in court are small. So often it is a case of one’s word against the other’s, no witnesses, some circumstantial suggestion that either or both were intoxicated or other information of a similar kind. Women are reluctant to go to court unless they have strong evidence in their favour.

In the present case the girl’s actions and motives are important if her allegations are to be believed. It appears that she was reluctant to come forward later because of the prominence of Mr Porter, and partly because she was drunk at the time, on her own admission. In pursuing a legal action she he might be removing him permanently from public life. Indeed, he has been prominent in politics from the beginning, having served in both the Western Australian and Federal Parliaments since 2008. His family is also prominent. He has been accused in the past for inappropriate cuddling with another woman, which he also denied. The woman in the alleged rape case made a long statement to her solicitor in 2019, and it was after that statement she took her life.

It’s a mess, in terms of evidence, isn’t it. Was the woman’s mental health always a problem? We don’t know. Other members of the debating team supported her allegation. On what basis? It’s not my job to come out with a judicial finding of any kind, and it’s no one else’s formal responsibility either. So we now move to the second issue: what should Mr Porter do? What he has done is to remove himself to the medical sphere, to deal with stress, which seems to be the new way of dealing with ‘issues’, at least in the short term. The Prime Minister has said, blandly, that Mr Porter has not advised him about he will return to his duties as Attorney-General.

Well, I have a suggestion, which is that Mr Porter should ask the PM for a return to a different set of Ministerial responsibilities for the moment. As he has shown already, there is no problem with the matter he raised earlier: he is still waiting for the case to blow over, and someone else (Michaelia Cash) is doing the A-G’s job. Since her primary responsibility is industrial relations, the PM plainly expects her acting job to be a short one. And my guess is that he expects Mr Porter to deal with his ‘stress issues’ quickly too.

My suggestion has a useful side for Mr Porter. While he continues to deny that any of this happened, the truth of the main issue has not been resolved, and can’t be, he remains something of a liability to his leader and his colleagues while the uncertainty about fact is part of the daily news feed. The Prime Minister can test the waters: give him a middling senior role, put someone else into the A-G slot, and carry on regardless. Unless a new allegation turns up, and one supported in a robust way, the issue will blow over sooner or later. Wait until mid-year, and then bring him back. I have no idea what the party-room feeling is, and that will be important.

It would have a useful side for the PM as well. There is increasing talk about an end-of-year election, and the Prime Minister needs to scrub some of the irritating black marks off the table. There has been a lot of criticism about sexual misconduct in Federal Parliament, and Mr Porter’s case is the most prominent recent example. It is time for the Coalition to do good things rather than ignore bad ones, and getting rid of sexual misconduct, real and alleged, is a good way to start.

Finally, there is no doubt that women are drawn to big, powerful alpha men. I saw this first in the old Parliament House, when Gough Whitlam, then Prime Minister, would follow his trio of attractive young women through King’s Hall. They were his personal staff, highly competent, all of them. Some years later Ian Sinclair had his own trio of attractive young women, all of them highly competent. I suggest nothing whatsoever about inappropriate relationships, only that the hothouse environment of Parliament makes male/female relationships of all kinds both understandable and highly visible.





Join the discussion 23 Comments

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    It is my understanding that at the time of the alleged incident, Mr Porter was a minor. So 32 years later, the hysterical publicity would seem to be, at best, inappropriate.

  • Neville says:

    I again agree with most of your comments Don, but the Coalition members were much more understanding when a woman accused Bill Shorten of rape and also a long time after the alleged event.
    Sky News recently showed Tony Abbott’s decent response at that time and
    I remember that Andrew Bolt also stated clearly at the time that Shorten should not be charged so long after the alleged rape.
    Sky also showed the entirely different approach by Tania Plibersek to the Shorten event and now against Porter.
    Her approach in the Sky video then and now is like chalk and cheese.
    And don’t forget that the woman involved in the Shorten allegation is still alive and hasn’t withdrawn her allegation.

  • whyisitso says:

    In the fifties and sixties, teenage boys used to try and get girls lightly drunk. The favourite drink was Pimms No 1 Cup. It was called a “leg opener”. Girls often gave way to boys while “under the influence”. They often regretted their lapse by the next morning. Today such incidents would definitely be called rape. I didn’t get involved in such things – I was too shy for a start, and even after I overcame my shyness and met my future wife, we were too scared of pregnancy to have sex.

  • Karabar says:

    The vicious “trial by mob” attitude of the ABC should be extinguished with a complete withdrawal of federal funding. Porter should sue the ABC, Seven-Nilagain, and half the presstitutes in Canberra for defamation. If they are allowed to carry on, anyone, even you, can be prosecuted, tried, and sentenced in the “court of public opinion” just as it was in the Middle Ages.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Thanks Don, for a very good summary and possible solution.

    I don’t think that women victims, though, always suffer from lack of belief. It seems to me they generally get more belief than men. But in this case proceeding with an independent enquiry will only muddy the waters even more with no possible certainty available.

    However, I think your compromise is a good solution for both Morrison and govt.

  • Aynsley Kellow says:

    I disagree with you on this Don.
    There are plenty of indications that the deceased complainant would be an unreliable witness even if alive. Take some of the ‘facts’ the case from those we know.
    1. Her parents considered that she might have confected or embellished her story because of her mental illness, and did not want the story aired; her ‘friends’ and Louise Milligan ignored those feelings. Milligan failed to even report her parents’ doubts.
    2. They went dancing at the Hard Rock Cafe, but that did not open in Sydney until the following year.
    3. She vomited after he allegedly anally raped her, and he then put her in the bath to clean her up – yet Sydney Women’s College contains no bathrooms and had only communal showers.
    4. He then apparently shaved her legs and armpits! To me, this is the most fantastical claim of all – a 17 yr-old shaving his victim! Where did he get the razor? Why would he do this?
    5, After all this – and at least on eother relationship – she was still convinced after four years that Porter was going to marry her. This sounds delusional in the extreme.

    She is also reported as feeling that Porter ‘had the career she should have had’. Porter became AG only in 2017, and the complaint emerged shortly thereafter. Perhaps his elevation to the Cabinet precipitated her feelings.

    There are, of course, myriad possible factors at play here. The allegations might be true, but confused. The latest science on memory is that it is constantly created and recreated – edited over time, and even had the complainant lived, her memory after 33 years would not be as reliable as after three weeks. And it might be that she sought intimacy with the Young Porter, but was spurned. (In the only photo published of them together at the time, she is certainly leaning in to Porter who appears passive).

    This is why rapes should be reported as soon as possible to the event – when corroborating evidence (including forensic) can be gathered and witnesses interviewed. I know it is difficult, and many go unreported. (I have known three women who were raped but they never reported it). But there is more encouragement today. Another complainant was advised by her minister to report, but claimed she feared losing here job. In fact, the alleged rapist lost his, before she raised her allegation, for breaching security. It could be argued that she raised it to KEEP her job. And we now know that at least one more offence was allegedly committed because he did not have to face justice.

    Difficult issues!

  • Neville says:

    Andrew Bolt asks the obvious question of their ABC and their fellow travelers from the crazy left wing mob.
    So if you’re from the Coalition side of the aisle the presumption of innocence is thrown out the door.

    “A Morrison Government minister is accused of a rape 32 years ago by a mentally ill women who is now dead. How can he possibly defend himself? And why is he not given the same protection that the media gave to Bill Shorten”?

    March 1, 2021 – 8:18AM
    “Just eight years ago, Labor and the ABC believed a man innocent of rape until proven guilty. That was when the accused man was Labor leader Bill Shorten”.

    “Today, it seems a man is presumed guilty until proven innocent. That’s when he’s a senior minister in the Morrison Government”.

    Never forget that lefties always align their response to maximise their own political advantage. ALWAYS and yet people actually vote for these con merchants?

    • Aynsley Kellow says:

      ‘Four Corners has been told that she first sought help from a sexual assault counsellor in about 2013 and saw the counsellor about six times” ‘

      So she only sought help when Porter was elected in 2013.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s a link to the 4 Corners program and a couple of quotes from their transcript. But we should remember that this unfortunate woman suffered from a bipolar disorder and had attempted suicide a number of times before.

    “Former Law Council of Australia president Arthur Moses told Four Corners the allegation could never be proven because the police have no sworn statement from the woman.

    “So there is no record of interview, as we understand it, between the complainant and the police that could be the subject of admissible evidence,” he said”.

    “And there is no evidence from any third parties that they witnessed [the] alleged sexual assault.”

    “The woman’s career never lived up to the huge promise she had shown.

    The older she got, the more she struggled. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been hospitalised. She attempted suicide several times.

    There’s no way of knowing what caused her mental health problems.

    Four Corners has been told that she first sought help from a sexual assault counsellor in about 2013 and saw the counsellor about six times”

    “The counsellor has told Four Corners that she disclosed to her an allegation about a boy she referred to by his first name as Christian, who had been a fellow debater.

    The woman reported her allegation to NSW Police in 2020 and police set up a strike force with a view to commencing an investigation into the historical allegation.

    Ultimately, the COVID pandemic stymied her plans to make her formal statement to police.

    She became very depressed and checked herself into a psychiatric clinic in Melbourne”.

    “The week after she left the clinic, she told police she did not want to proceed with the complaint.

    The day after that, on June 24, at her home in Adelaide, she took her own life.

    NSW Police subsequently closed the case, stating that there was insufficient admissible evidence to proceed with the investigation.

    Last week, South Australia Police delivered their report on her death to the state’s coroner.

    The coroner released a statement saying that following media reporting, he regarded the investigation as “incomplete” and has asked for further investigations, after which he will decide whether to hold an inquest”. END of ABC of link transcript. Here’s the link.


  • Aynsley Kellow says:

    I should add that I can see no grounds for conducting an inquiry into the matter as it can establish nothing and nor can it disprove anything. The grounds for an inquiry into Bill Shorten could be considered stronger, because his complainant is still alive and is persistent – but there should be none there either. The police and the DPP should decide such things.

    Neither do I consider Don’s political compromise should be followed. The presumption of innocence is a core principle of any democracy. It cannot be compromised to assuage political campaigns by the Mob. I think Morrison (and Porter) must tough it out. If the presumption one innocence and the rule of law are not worth standing for, what is?

  • Neville says:

    So what constitutes inappropriate kissing, touching or sexual assault and even if the man in question is now the President of the USA?
    Here’s an example from a fellow Dem candidate who definitely didn’t like Biden’s creepy kissing and touching of her in 2019.
    But at least Lucy Flores is an adult and yet we have dozens of videos of this creep touching and kissing innocent young girls and over a number of years.
    Then we had a very serious allegation from Tara Reade a former DEM staffer that Biden digitally raped her and she still stands by her allegations. Here’s Lucy Flores video.

  • Neville says:

    Here’s many more DEM women who have also had problems with the Biden creep.
    Amazing that all those other left wing women scribblers who’ve always yelled the loudest in the past, somehow lose their voice and outrage when the accused is a prominent DEM politician and now is the President of the USA.


  • Bryan Roberts says:

    There are youtube compilations of Biden’s interactions with young girls that would land him in a bloody heap in the parking lot of any country pub in Australia.

  • BB says:

    I think you all are missing the main game. I do not know whether this is orchestrated or not but it is what is happening. In the case of sex quite often there is only two people present unless you’re pretty kinky. This means unless there is injury one does not know whether it was consensual or even whether it occurred. There has been great pressure from those who press the identity politics issue to accept that women and children always tell the truth and know what it is. Unfortunately the legal fraternity, media and other suspect groups are taking this on board. An instance is in our universities if a sexual act takes place between two students and subsequently particularly the female for whatever reason is unhappy with the outcome then she can take it to the police. Police usually want evidence and if there is none that is it is a matter of disagreement they are unlikely to proceed. We now have tribunals here and overseas in universities that adjudicate. They are a source of great injustice. The same problem was evidenced in the Pell case he was accused by someone who was 14 at the time of committing an extreme sexual offence. It was without corroboration and witness but no matter it had to go to the High Court but even so Pell received 400 days in jail. It is the same group that pursued Pell who are pursuing Porter now and they are centred in the ABC. If they were to get their wishes it would mean overturning 800 years of legal thought. The witness of one is no witness at all. It may be injustice will be served but the alternative is the road to hell. It would mean a child or a woman could destroy any one they wished by merely making the accusation of something had occurred recently or many many years in the past. Porter should resume his position immediately and as he is doing proceed against the ABC for defamation. More than that individuals within the ABC should be sued personally. It is an attack on our whole legal system and anyone that supports this are either ignorant or wish to do a great deal of harm to our society.

  • Chris Warren says:

    It is an unfortunate fact of our system that you can get away with any crime, if there is no evidence that can convict you.

    Also it is not up to the media or bloggists or anyone else to run their own proxy trial.

    The only issue that needs addressing is why didn’t the victim pursue the issue through channels everyone else has to go through to obtain justice? If something needs to be here for future cases then that would be useful.

    • spangled drongo says:

      It’s also an unfortunate fact that when certain people are convinced something is happening, evidence is the last thing they need.

      What does it remind you of?

  • “There is no doubt women are drawn to big, powerful alpha men …”

    As a junior reporter for a Canadian newspaper, I was assigned to interview an internationally famous and highly controversial tennis player. I was in my mid-20s, and thought nothing of it when he suggested we meet in his hotel room. Immediately after I arrived, he dismissed his male assistant, double-locked the door, and stood in front of it as he began removing his clothes. Either drugged or drunk, he repeatedly slurred: “Come ‘re shweetheart …”

    I was terrified. When he started to clamber from his boxer shorts, I told him in a very loud voice that I was writing exactly what he was saying and removing in my notebook.

    “You wouldn’ do that, shweetheart … You wouldn’ do that …”

    I said I would and was. He began dressing and that was that. I interviewed him and left, as if nothing had happened.

    Nearly 50 years have passed. Although the tennis player died years ago, and the experience still haunts me (I could have been raped), I almost never talk about it and never name the tennis player. I told my boss, who shrugged it off, saying it was my word against the tennis player’s. Given who this man was, the story would have produced international headlines, the tennis player would have sued, and I would have lost my job.

    A big, powerful, alpha male? Definitely. Drawn to him? Never.

    The point: I tried to complain and was rebuffed. So, apparently, did this young woman. Assuming she was truthful, someone assaulted her. Whether it was the then-17-year-old Christian Porter is a moot point. Even mentioning his name is unfair to him. What to do? Precisely nothing. Given the time lag, the absence of the complainant, and the lack of proof, it would be grossly unfair to open a case that was dubious from the start.

    How common is this? I don’t know. My experience was minor. But women who survive experiences far more serious need to raise their voices and ensure their voices are heard.

  • spangled drongo says:

    Porter is suing the ABC for publishing “false allegations against him” in an online story that claimed he was the subject of historical rape allegations and, in a statement of claim, has also cited a Four Corners report in November last year:


    • Aynsley Kellow says:

      The latest detail is that he not only shaved her legs and armpits, but cleaned her teeth for her! This is not credible stuff.

      • Boambee John says:

        If you look at the “circular” letter, supposedly written about 3 years after the event (presumably 1991) it uses abbreviations and jargon that did not become common until text messaging became common. Strange.

  • Neville says:

    Here is what Nicole Flint had to endure during the 2019 FED election and you have to wonder why any Liberal woman would bother trying to hold a marginal SA seat if she had to face this type of intimidation every day of the campaign.
    GET UP, the Labor left, Ext REB etc should hang their heads in shame, but we now understand how this gradually wears people down because Nicole has now decided it’s not worth it anymore.
    See Jones & Richo 2019 interview of Nicole at 2 mins 50 secs.

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