Attorney-General denies allegation of 'unacceptable conduct'

Australian Associated Press
·3-min read

Attorney-General Christian Porter has denied allegations of public drinking and inappropriate behaviour aired in the ABC’s Four Corners’s program on Monday night.

The program reported that a fortnight before being appointed federal Attorney-General Christian Porter faced prime ministerial questions about reports on his behaviour in public.

The senior coalition MP denies has since issued a statement denying the allegations and has labelled them defamatory.

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull told the program he spoke to Mr Porter in December 2017 about reports the soon-to-be attorney-general had been seen drinking too much and "in the company of young women" at a Canberra bar.

"This is unacceptable conduct for a cabinet minister and it exposes you to the risk of compromise," Mr Turnbull said he told Mr Porter.

Attorney-General Christian Porter during Question Time in the House of Representatives. Source: AAP
Attorney-General Christian Porter during Question Time in the House of Representatives. Source: AAP

The role of attorney-general entitles the office-bearer to a seat on the National Security Committee.

"The risk of compromise is very real - it's not just the stuff of spy novels," Mr Turnbull said, admitting that if he had been aware of broader concerns about Mr Porter at the time, he would have made further inquiries before finalising his promotion.

Mr Porter still holds the portfolio in the Morrison government.

"Four Corners' depiction of interactions in the bar are categorically rejected," he said in a statement.

At the time of the incident Mr Porter - now separated from his second wife - was married and his wife and young child were at home in Perth, the ABC reported.

Outgoing Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull speaks during his final press conference.
Malcolm Turnbull has said he spoke to Christian Porter about the allegations. Source: AAP

Mr Porter said in a statement about his 2017 meeting with Mr Turnbull that the then-prime minister queried whether there was any accuracy to the "story" he had heard, and that the "answer was no".

"Malcolm then promoted me to attorney-general about two weeks after," Mr Porter said.

The Four Corners program revealed that during his university days in Western Australia Mr Porter often made demeaning remarks about women, including notes in yearbooks.

"I apologise for material I wrote in a law school magazine 24 years ago. I obviously wouldn't write that now and it is something I regret," Mr Porter said.

Former staffer makes allegations of ‘poor behaviour’

Former Liberal staffer Rachelle Miller, who had an affair with her former boss, coalition minister Alan Tudge, said while her relationship with Mr Tudge was consensual, she now wanted to speak out about the overall "poor behaviour" within Parliament House.

"I lost a lot of self confidence because I didn't feel I had any power at all to stand up for myself," said the adviser, who has left Mr Tudge's office.

Rachelle Miller is a former political staffer. Source: Four Corners/ ABC
Rachelle Miller is a former political staffer. Source: Four Corners/ ABC

The minister for population, cities and urban infrastructure issued a brief statement after the program was aired.

"I regret my actions immensely and the hurt it caused my family. I also regret the hurt that Ms Miller has experienced," Mr Tudge said.

Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten said the claims made in the program were "pretty seedy" and women staffers in Parliament House had a right to feel safe and supported.

"But I don't think a lot of MPs go to Canberra and, you know, play up and get on the beers every night," Mr Shorten said.

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