Mark Dreyfus MP

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Christian Porter's Resignation

19 September 2021

Christian Porter’s belated resignation from Cabinet highlights yet another failure of leadership from this Prime Minister.

MARK DREYFUS
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
MEMBER FOR ISAACS 
 
 CHRISTIAN PORTER’S RESIGNATION 

Christian Porter’s belated resignation from Cabinet highlights yet another failure of leadership from this Prime Minister.
 
Mr Morrison has once again demonstrated he has no standards and is incapable of taking responsibility unless cornered by public outrage with no one left to hide behind.
 
It has been obvious to everyone except Mr Morrison that Mr Porter’s position was untenable. But instead of acting, Mr Morrison once again ducked responsibility by asking someone else to tell him whether it was appropriate for a member of his Cabinet to accept up to a million dollars from secret benefactors with unknown motives.
 
It’s absurd for Mr Morrison to claim that Mr Porter has upheld the standards – he has breached the Ministerial Standards. As of now, Mr Porter is still in receipt of up to $1 million in secret donations, and Mr Morrison is apparently comfortable with this.
 
But Mr Porter’s resignation from Cabinet does not draw a line under this matter. Mr Morrison now needs to come clean about how much he knew about this secret fund, and demand Mr Porter either come clean about the source of these donations or give the money back.
 
Mr Porter’s resignation should also not be allowed to obscure the events that led to this point.
 
After a grave allegation of sexual assault was made against Mr Porter, which he denies, Scott Morrison refused to establish any kind of inquiry into Mr Porter’s fitness for office. Mr Morrison did not even bother to read the dossier containing the allegation.
 
Mr Morrison has done everything possible to keep Mr Porter in his Cabinet. And one can see why: In many ways Mr Porter’s career as Attorney-General was a perfect fit with the Morrison Government – he said a lot but accomplished very little.
 
Over 1,000 days after he stood beside Mr Morrison and promised Australians a Commonwealth Integrity Commission and a Religious Discrimination Bill, the Morrison Government hasn’t even managed to bring a bill before the Parliament for either promise.
 
Mr Porter promised to overhaul protections for whistleblowers and strengthen privacy laws but never lifted a finger. He ignored landmark reports into the family law system and sexual harassment in the workplace. He wouldn’t even meet with the Sex Discrimination Commissioner to discuss her [email protected] Report – let alone act on it.
 
With Mr Morrison’s full support, he abolished Australia’s specialist, stand-alone family court – a disgraceful legacy that will leave Australian families worse off.
 
He was caught misrepresenting legal opinions from the Australian Government Solicitor and the Solicitor-General about the Medevac Bill, presided over the trashing of Australia’s freedom of information laws and appointed scores of patently unqualified Liberal mates to high paid jobs on the Administrative Appeals Tribunal – including his own Liberal Party staffers.
 
Mr Porter and his supporters will undoubtedly seek to paint him as a victim of some imagined wrong. But the only legitimate complaint Mr Porter can make about being forced to resign from Cabinet because of public pressure is that – since taking office in August 2018 – the Prime Minister has led his Ministers to believe that they can get away with anything.
 
SUNDAY, 19 SEPTEMBER 2021