Christian Porter responsible for serial breaches of the law, now cries “rule of law”

by | Mar 4, 2021 | Government

Christian Porter is responsible for serial breaches of the law, as documented here last year. These revelations alone should be enough to see Porter removed from official duties but his relentless persecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery – both denied natural justice and prosecuted in secret – are hardly the stuff of a model litigant. Yet now the besieged Attorney-General calls for rule of law to apply in respect of the rape allegations against him. Elizabeth Minter reports.  

“In this last week I have tried to do what I have tried to do all of my life: respect the rule and the processes and the law.”

So said Christian Porter yesterday in his media conference.

Yet his behaviour as the first law officer of the nation indicates he has no idea what the rule of law is. Because as Attorney General he has repeatedly made a mockery of the rule of law.

Attorney General Christian Porter breaches law over three years, claims it was a mistake

Porter’s persecution of Bernard Collaery and Witness K over the East Timor bugging

Porter’s comments stand in stark contrast to his unrelenting prosecution of Bernard Collaery and his client Witness K for having the temerity to expose in 2004 the Coalition Government’s illegal behaviour in bugging the offices of the East Timorese Cabinet.

In his press conference Porter was particularly animated about the potential loss of his career; his life’s work.

“If I stand down from my position as Attorney-General because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work, based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print.”

Yet Porter has had no compunction about destroying the life’s work and career of highly esteemed former ACT Attorney General Bernard Collaery.

In an ABC article “Christian Porter and a secret trial have destroyed my practice, Witness K lawyer Bernard Collaery says“, Collaery blames Attorney-General Christian Porter for ruining his career. Mr Collaery said Porter had chosen to pursue the prosecution.

In his press conference, Porter also claimed:

“I always did so trying to respect the rights of the people who were accused, but I always gave everything I had to doing right by the victim in the often traumatic process of the justice system.”

In early February, Porter and his bureaucrats tried to prevent Bret Walker SC from participating in the Collaery case by initially refusing to provide him with permission to join the case under national security provisions, and refusing to agree to moving the hearing dates so Walker could participate.

Porter was also accused of interfering in the court proceedings by screening documents held by Woodside Petroleum. Independent senator Rex Patrick used Senate question time recently to ask why Porter demanded the federal government have “first access” to documents held by Woodside before they were provided to Collaery.

As for holding the Collaery hearing held behind closed doors, Collaery said: “I want to defend myself in public. That’s the hallmark of our democracy, a public trial.”

Former NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy says there is no need to hold the trial in secret. “There are no real national security bases for suppressing that evidence and keeping it away from the public,” and because the horse had well and truly bolted. Whatever damage may have been done to Australia’s reputation was done years ago and “these events have been discussed many, many times in the press.

East Timor bugging scandal: Attorney General’s push for secret trial diminishes us as a nation

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal

As reported by Crikey, Christian Porter appointed former Liberal Party senator Karen Synon to the $496,560 a year position as Deputy President and Division Head of the Social Services and Child Support Division, despite her not meeting the requirement in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act that she be an “enrolled legal practitioner” of a state Supreme Court for at least five years — a minimum qualification for even a lower-rung member of the AAT.

The interview panel — which included at least one retired senior judge — did not interview her, let alone recommend her, for the role. Synon also has no experience in social services and child support law. Porter refused to comment when asked, merely saying that all appointments are made “on merit”.

Breaking the law

Since taking the top legal job in Australia in 2017, Porter was in breach of Commonwealth legislation for three years by neglecting to table crucial reports documenting his use of secretive national security orders against whistleblowers.

As revealed in these pages, Porter failed to disclose his use of controversial National Security Information (NSI) orders in criminal proceedings, blaming an “administrative oversight”. As the Attorney General, he was required by law to table his use of NSI orders to Federal Parliament each year, Christian Porter has failed to do so ever since he was appointed to the role in 2017. This is despite Porter showing great enthusiasm for the legal sledgehammer he discovered when he took on the job.

Putting policy above the rule of law

When the Federal Court found that then Immigration Minister Alan Tudge engaged in criminal conduct by detaining an asylum-seeker for five days in defiance of an order by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Porter responded by saying: “The Minister clearly rejects [the court’s] conclusions.”

In Porter’s view, because the Immigration Minister was implementing Government policy, policy trumps the criminal law and trumps the orders of courts or tribunals.

Christian Porter has shown himself unfit to be federal Attorney–General

Porter defies 100 years of auditing best practice

As reported by Michelle Fahy, “In a move that sent ripples of alarm through the parliament, the public service, academia, and the wider community, Porter prevented the auditor general from making public key sections of his report that was critical of a $1.3 billion arms deal between the federal government and multinational weapons maker Thales.”

In doing so, Porter defied 100 years of best practice.”

‘Gagged: a brazen attack on Parliament and the public interest,’ was the Canberra Times headline on a column by the ANU’s Emeritus Professor at the Crawford school of public policy, Richard Mulgan.”

Thales objected to key sections of the auditor’s report which found that Australia could have saved hundreds of millions of dollars had it gone to the US to buy the fleet of light protected army vehicles, instead of buying 1,100 of Thales’ locally built Hawkeis. Christian Porter acquiesced to Thales and suppressed the key sections.

Secret evidence bill

As Crikey noted, the day before Porter’s press conference and his stress on the “rule of law”, the Morrison government held hearings into a proposed “secret evidence” bill that would deny people the right to hear or respond to cases against them before having their visa or citizenship stripped.

As the Kaldor Centre state: the Bill would significantly restrict the circumstances in which a person would have the ability to respond to key information relied upon to reach a decision against them. This undermines principles that are fundamental to the Australian legal system such as procedural fairness, the right to a fair trial and the rule of law, as well as a number of international human rights obligations that Australia has subscribed to.

Read the full press conference transcript, Christian Porter denies historical rape allegation – ABC News

Dark side: Christian Porter’s night life intensifies deep concerns over political integrity

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Minter

Elizabeth Minter

A 30-year veteran of the mainstream media, Liz is the editor of Michael West Media. Liz began her career in journalism in 1990 and worked at The Age newspaper for two 10-year stints. She also worked at The Guardian newspaper in London for more than seven years. A former professional tennis player who represented Australia in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Liz has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Letters (Hons). Her Twitter handle is @LizMinter_

23 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Love your article Ms. Minter

  2. Avatar

    Porter is steadfast in his denials of rape because he thinks rape is what ‘;rapists’ do, and he himself is not a rapist. Just like Morrison having to ask Jenny how to be human, Porter displays the total lack of self-understanding of the narcissistic sociopath which the basic personality of a rapist. The treatment of Collary and K is rape. The treatment of the Sri Lankan refugees from Biloela is rape. Robodebt is rape. The list goes on and on, includes both society and the environment, and shows that the LNP is an organisation of rapists..

  3. Avatar

    Excellent reporting Elizabeth Minter, uncovering Porter’s total disregard for the rule of law is key to understanding his acting as if he is above the law in all that he said in his disgraceful press conference yesterday denying claims of a vicious and brutal rape of a 16 year details of which he said he hadn’t read. He even lied about his age at the time of the rape saying he was just a boy, only 17, when in fact he was 18. This is a mongrel who is on record as saying he won’t date women who weigh more than 50 kgs (easier to overpower?) and has cheated on two wives and counting. Morrison’s claims that the police investigation into Porter’s alleged rape was closed due to lack of evidence is also misleading. NSW Police were set to interview the victim in Adelaide but used covid as an excuse to delay taking her statement. So the coverup of such a major accusation runs much deeper than Porter and Morrison considering that the NSW Police Commissioner lives in the same street as Morrison and is a member of the same religious cult (Hellsong). Since these claims have been circulating for a long time, one must explore any correlation between this case and the huge pay rise ($90,000) given by LNP premier Gladys Berejiklian to that same NSW Police Commissioner in May last year.

  4. Avatar

    Great article Liz, and if I may, wish to contribute the following. I came across it in 2004 and IMHO depicts your story quite well:

    Subject: Fw: SLEAZY LAWYER STORY

    THIS IS THE BEST LAWYER STORY OF THE YEAR, DECADE AND PROBABLY THE CENTURY.

    A Charlotte, NC lawyer purchased a box of very rare and expensive cigars, then insured them against fire, among other things. Within a month, having smoked his entire stockpile of these great cigars and without yet having made even his first premium payment on the policy, the lawyer filed a claim against the insurance company.

    In his claim, the lawyer stated the cigars were lost “in a series of small fires.” The insurance company refused to pay, citing the obvious reason that the man had consumed the cigars in the normal fashion.

    The lawyer sued.. and WON! (Stay with me.)

    In delivering the ruling, the judge agreed with the insurance company that the claim was frivolous. The judge stated nevertheless, that the lawyer “held a policy from the company in which it had warranted that the cigars were insurable and also guaranteed that it would insure them against fire, without defining what is considered to be unacceptable fire” and was obligated to pay the claim. Rather than endure lengthy and costly appeal process, the insurance company accepted the ruling and paid $15,000 to the
    lawyer for his loss of the rare cigars lost in the “fires”.

    NOW FOR THE BEST PART…

    After the lawyer cashed the check, the insurance company had him arrested on 24 counts of ARSON!!! With his own insurance claim and testimony from the previous case being used against him, the lawyer was convicted of intentionally burning his insured property and was sentenced to 24 months in jail and a $24,000 fine.

    This is a true story and was the First Place winner in the recent Criminal Lawyers Award Contest.

    ONLY IN AMERICA!

    • Avatar

      Sorry to burst your bubble. It’s a great story but that’s all it is. The reason I read MW is for journalistic integrity. This story has been doing the rounds since the 1960s. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cigarson/

      • Avatar

        Thank you for clarifying the origin!

        Under the circumstances, it’s been rather dark and heavy going for many, and if I may say so, beginning to feel like walking thru wet concrete. IMHO any brevity is welcome, original or otherwise.

        As for journalistic integrity, I’ve been reading and supporting MWM since its inception.

  5. Avatar

    Thank you, Elizabeth Minter.
    This is excellent reporting.
    Just a profound disservice to the nation that the mainstream media will not report these manifestly relevant facts.

  6. Avatar

    I would simply and politely ask that you go back and be reminded of the alleged perpetrators history of behaviour and what I would personally regard as his modus operandi.
    Please read this article (below) as was written on 10 November 2020 from the 4 Corners expose of Christian Porter and Alan Tudge, prior to this current matter.

    I am reminded of the following creed …

    “Watch your thoughts, they become words
    Watch your words, they become actions
    Watch your actions, they become habits
    Watch your habits, they become character
    Watch your character, it becomes your destiny”

    In the case of Christian Porter, there appears to be a repetitious and long history of the same behaviours
    I believe one needs to ask, whether he is a creditable defendant?
    This is only my honest opinion.
    URL to article:
    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-11-10/four-corners-investigation-christian-porter-sexism-inappropriate/12862910

  7. Avatar

    thank you for this article and pointing out that this national government has gotten so used to being corrupt they don’t even know how to explain their actions anymore

    time to vote them out

  8. Avatar

    Thanks for this article; there is so much here that had passed me by. It confirms my gut feeling that the real issue is probity. Is Porter fit to hold the office of Attorney General and the answer is no. Like many people my first reaction to Porter’s plea to be afforded the presumption of innocence and for there to be no reversal of the onus of proof was … but what about Robodebt. I see now that there is so much more that is not to his credit.

    Let me say that I can have some sympathy for those caught out in later life for the thoughtless and possibly cruel misdeeds of their youth. I’m not sure that any of us come up clean in this regard. I cannot see that the alleged rape can now go through the normal legal process and Porter either convicted or acquitted of rape.

    But an enquiry is warranted; including examination of the Police processes in investigating the rape allegation (as mentioned in an earlier post) to test whether or not this process was undertaken with integrity given that the alleged perpetrator is the Attorney General and if not, was this a factor in the suicide of the victim.

    • Avatar

      When you add it to the more recent stories, what you see is not youthful indiscretion, but personality type, and that alone shows unfitness for the job, regardless of any criminality..

  9. Avatar

    interesting to see who he appointed as the “Integrity Commissioner” at ACLEI 12 months ago and consider the funding and change in ‘direction’ as some important investigations were ‘shut down’.

  10. Avatar

    With exposure like this I can’t imagine Porter will survive his political career.

    • Avatar

      And with arrogance like that, I bet he still thinks he can be PM one day..

  11. Avatar

    One of the main things I took from his conference, is that he has no respect for women and begrudgingly acknowledges them, he’s clearly of the opinion he is more superior to females as a male. Every question put to him was responded to with either 1. Attention or 2. Huffing, sighing and quickly cutting off before the question had been asked all the way through. Can you guess who he huffed and sighed at when being questioned??? That’s right any member of the press core that was not male. It may have been subtle but it was there on display question after question.
    This hypocrite will never admit guilt or take blame, this is a person who believes he has the right to be where he is and stay there no matter what. There is no entitled generation problem, there is however, an entitled politician/class problem, and it is dismissive of its overly illegal activity, sexual harassment/abuse history. We deserve better than this, we should demand better than this, and we need to be able to hold this cretin to account.

    • Avatar

      He’s basically in a no win situation. There is nothing he could say or do to convince you or the Twitter flames and pitchfork mob it never happened.
      He could address the credibility of the accuser but that would be attacking the victim (no alleged here). He can say nothing and he’s avoiding the issue (due to his guilt and inability to mount a defence). He can say something and his body language/behaviour/phraseology is all wrong.
      There is literally nothing he can do to convince the believers he didn’t do it.
      That said, the points made about his flagrant disregard for legal principles are well made and show him to be a hypocrite like the majority of our parliament and politicians to greater or lesser degrees.

      • Avatar

        If the public were given the evidence that Porter infers he has, observers would be in a position to weigh that evidence against that which Kate has presented and which other people who knew Kate might provide. Porter may have evidence he wishes to provide to support his assertion. However, I understand that Kate has made extensive contemporaneous notes. Other witnesses might provide evidence that could challenge that of Kate and people who knew her. Morrison claims that Porter is innocent without considering the content of Kate’s evidence. The “grey areas” which PVO suggested exists might be used to strengthen the evidence produced by Kate not undermine it contrary to PVO’s assertion. A transparent inquiry is needed for the balance of probabilities to be evaluated. Porter’s fitness to be AG is paramount under laws of good governance.

  12. Avatar

    The Liberal Party is not so different to the CCP.

    The rule of law is just another 3 word slogan.

    The Liberal Party also never offered empathy in the last election campaign, so there will not be any of that in government. Or truth, honesty, integrity, humanity. Just self interest. I see that the scandal prone Minister Taylor finds himself on the wrong side of another set of curious coincidences over a NSW grant. The hubris is strong in this one.

    • Avatar

      He thinks, because he is the Federal Attorney General, “I rule the law”..

  13. Avatar

    Thank you for a well researched and presented article. It presents a history of the use and abuse of power. It is amusing that the level of justice that they ask be applied to themselves is not applied to the unemployed, the disabled, the poor, the old, the sick and single parents by them. Nor is the standard of justice, they insist upon for themselves, being delivered in the Bernard Collaery and Witness K case over the East Timor bugging.
    These people do not thrive in a transparent and accountable environment and so they are seeking to change our system to suite them. The issue is we need our government to be transparent and accountable to ensure that society as a whole thrives not just the chosen few.

  14. Avatar

    How shameful to have Bernard Collaery a man of outstanding moral and ethical standing being judged by the self-consuming and seemingly morally bankrupt Christian Porter. Congratulations Liz Minter on a well-expressed article.

  15. Avatar

    The prime minister declares Porter is “an innocent man under our law”. This is not correct the NSW police have said they do not have enough evidence to proceed with an investigation. “Insufficient admissible evidence” does not in any way suggest or imply let alone stand as a legal decision about the AG’s guilt or innocence. For Scott Morrison to draw this misleading, self-serving and frankly dangerous conflation is actually an instance of undermining the rule of law, making his equally incorrect claim that an independent investigation would void the presumption of innocence all the more of a cynical distraction. What about the presumption that the complainant was telling the truth?

    Christian Porter declares that “Nothing in the allegations that have been printed ever happened” but numerous facts about the lead-up to the alleged rape and after, recorded in the complainant’s statement, have been backed by witnesses from the time and acknowledged by the AG himself to have occurred or were quite likely to, or may have been as described but for the first law officer’s faulty memory. So at something in the allegations did happen but we are left to wonder how the fist law officer of the land can be so vague on so many details he does acknowledge, yet so adamant and categorical that the key event did not happen.

    The instances listed in the article of Christian Porter’s law breaking and contempt for the rule of law when it comes to his own or his party’s interests, makes an utter mockery of his claim that “In this last week I have tried to do what I have tried to do all of my life: respect the rule and the processes and the law.” The Attorney General has form not only in the cynical performance of his political duties but also in his private life as reported in two 4 Corners programs that reveal a man who has been cavalier, unfair and disrespectful to women at the very least, for much of his adult life.

    Why should anyone, let alone the prime minister, think this man should be taken at his word, especially when any question of his suitability or conduct throws the office of the Attorney General into disrepute? The only way Christian Porter and the prime minister can hope to put this behind them, is to do a complete about face and call for an independent investigation right now. Anything less or any further delay only darkens the cloud hanging over the whole of parliament and the L-NP in particular.

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