Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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ABC World Today 5 March 2021

05 March 2021

SUBJECT: Christian Porter allegations



SUBJECT: Christian Porter allegations

CAROLINE WINTER: Well, we just heard about an independent review into the workplace culture at Parliament House, but Labor is calling for another independent inquiry into an historical rape allegation. Attorney-General Christian Porter has strenuously denied the allegation that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl when he was 17 in the 1980s. The Government's hoping to move on from the matter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison says an independent investigation isn't necessary. The Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus says that's unacceptable. He spoke with our political reporter James Glenday.

MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I think that independent investigation, which is absolutely needed now, could clear the air. It could restore confidence, the confidence that the Australian community needs to have in the Attorney-General of Australia.

JAMES GLENDAY: So it could clear his name?

DREYFUS: it could do that. At the moment we have the situation that a preliminary investigation has had to be ended by the New South Wales Police because, of course, the complainant is no longer with us.

GLENDAY: Opponents in the Government say this idea of an inquiry would be little more than a pseudo criminal investigation, that it would upset the rule of law, whereas proponents think it should be considered more like a workplace safety investigation, the sort that police officers or teachers regularly face when they're accused of misconduct. What do you think, what does the Opposition think it should look like?

DREYFUS: These are extremely unusual circumstances but the Prime Minister has to lead our country by dealing with those unusual circumstances. It's of course the case that businesses, organisations, schools, governments across Australia have investigations into alleged wrongdoing all the time. They do not in any way affect the rule of law. It's an absurd suggestion that's been made by senior government ministers and including the Prime Minister and Mr. Porter himself.

GLENDAY: Some people have sought to draw parallels between the sexual assault allegation made against Mr Porter and those made some time ago against former Labor Leader Bill Shorten. How different do you think those two cases are?

DREYFUS: It's completely different. The allegations against Mr Shorten were made by a complainant who is still alive. The police conducted an exhaustive 10-months long investigation in which they interviewed Mr Shorten, who volunteered to speak to them, waived any privilege against self-incrimination. The complainant was extensively interviewed, as I understand it, and many other people. It's a very full investigation which resulted in the Victoria Police not taking any further action. That's a hugely different situation from the one Mr Porter finds himself in and we need to focus on the problem that the country is presently facing.

WINTER: Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.