Along with the rest of Australia, I am now totally convinced of Christian Porter’s complete innocence over that historical rape accusation.
It would be impossible to form any other opinion – indeed, you would have to have a heart of stone not to have been swayed by his words – after watching the Attorney-General’s impassioned and emotional speech yesterday afternoon from Perth,
Early on, he stated: “… I can say categorically that what has been put in various forms and allegations simply did not happen”.
“It just did not happen” was his oft-repeated refrain.
I applaud Porter for his robust defence of the person he believes he is. And it takes courage to admit that the accusations have taken their toll.
“I have discussed with the Prime Minister today that after speaking with my own doctor I am going to take a short period of leave to assess and hopefully improve my own mental health.”
But here are a few suggestions and I hope Porter finds them constructive and worth pursuing.
Firstly, I really would caution him against believing that his strenuous denials and a short break will see this issue blow over. This is simply not going to go away and fresh statements and recountings of events 33 years ago will emerge, if not in a torrent then a very constant, erosive and damaging drip feed.
Secondly, his arguments against any form of inquiry may be legitimately held debating points on matters of procedural fairness but his ongoing problems are not legal ones; they are political.
While Porter clearly wasn’t particularly interested in obtaining and reading the allegations sent to the Prime Minister and others last week, I would recommend he read the transcript of yesterday’s media call.
Porter should reflect on his clear difficulty in responding to a question of whether he walked the alleged rape victim back to her room on that night back in early 1988.
“That may well be the case” was his answer, followed shortly after by “No” to a reporter’s question: “Do you remember walking her to her room though?”
Were there an inquiry in train, Porter could legitimately ignore such lines of questioning that could lead down some troubling paths if not unwanted assumptions.
Porter needs to understand that the calls for some form of inquiry will grow and he should grab the opportunity to have his name cleared by such a probe, perhaps by some respected retired jurist behind closed doors.
It would be a crying shame if this issue bubbled away for months and damaged the Morrison Government’s chances of re-election and Porter’s own dreams of one day being a much-loved long-term Liberal Prime Minister himself.