/ 05 March 2021

Calls for inquiry into Porter claims intensify

THE SQUIZ
Pressure on PM Scott Morrison to facilitate an inquiry into claims Attorney-General Christian Porter raped an unnamed woman when they were teenagers in 1988 is ramping up. Porter denied the accusations in the strongest terms on Wednesday and said he shouldn’t be required to “disprove something that didn’t happen 33 years ago” when the pair were at a debating competition in Sydney. That position was backed yesterday by Morrison, who said there’s “not some other process” outside the legal system that can take it forward. 

WHO WANTS AN INQUIRY?
The woman’s parents. She died last year, and a statement from their lawyers said they  “continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss. They are supportive of any inquiry which would potentially shed light on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s passing.” That endorsement was seen as a turning point for advocates of an inquiry. A group of the woman’s friends have been calling for one since the story broke last Friday. Former PM Malcolm Turnbull says it’s what should happen. And Labor, independent MPs and the Greens have all called for one this week. But Morrison says he has “no alternative” but to follow the rule of law.

SO WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
Morrison says the only judgment he could form about an accusation of sexual assault against one of his ministers would be “based on the report of the police”. The NSW Police, who spoke to the woman on at least 5 occasions over 3 months before she died, say there is “insufficient admissible evidence” to continue an investigation. And there’s the rub… Launching an inquiry into criminal claims is “not how we run the rule of law in Australia,” Morrison says. But those in support, like independent MP/barrister Zali Steggall, say it’s essential because “the police investigation was hamstrung by the unfortunate circumstances… So the reality is this hasn’t really been investigated. And I think the public deserve to know.” Watch this space…

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