/ 20 September 2021

Blind trust puts Porter on the backbench

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

Industry, Science and Technology Minister Christian Porter has resigned from the Morrison Government’s frontbench. Last week, he updated the Members’ Register of Interest to reveal that a ‘blind trust’ paid for part of his legal fees in his abandoned defamation case against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan. PM Scott Morrison launched an investigation, and yesterday he said Porter was unable to shed any light on who had stumped up the cash, so to avoid “a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest,” he resigned. Energy Minister Angus Taylor will act in Porter’s portfolios with a replacement set to be announced next week.

Yep. It started when the ABC aired rape claims against an unnamed federal cabinet minister in late February. At that point, Porter was the Attorney-General – Australia’s top law officer. He identified himself as the man in question and took leave to deal with his mental health. But it wasn’t those allegations that have seen him go – it’s about how he paid his circa $1 million legal bill after suing the broadcaster and journo for defamation. Concerns about transparency were raised, but Porter maintains he has acted within the rules. He says he won’t ask for the donors to reveal themselves because they will be attacked by the ‘‘social media mob’’. Who is behind the financial support is still not clear, but “that matter is now concluded,” Morrison says.

Yeah nah… Labor leader Anthony Albanese is calling on Porter to resign from parliament. And there are plenty of questions about whether Porter will contest the next federal election, which is set to take place in the coming 9 months. He says he will stand again in his metro/rural seat of Pearce in Western Oz, and Morrison yesterday resisted any suggestion he or the Liberal Party should take further action against him. What that means is it will ultimately be the voters in his electorate who will make a judgement about whether taking financial support from someone/people he cannot name passes the sniff test. 

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