Pressure grows for inquiry into rape allegations against Christian Porter
Scott Morrison is facing a rising tide of pressure to launch an independent inquiry into rape allegations against the nation’s top law officer.
The Prime Minister is digging in against an investigation after Attorney-General Christian Porter emphatically denied the 1988 assault ever happened.
The woman who made the allegations took her own life last year and her family are supportive of any inquiry that could shed light on her death.
Natasha Stott Despoja, who is the chair of domestic violence prevention group Our Watch, believes further investigation is needed.
“The way the government has handled this, so even the process, saddens me and angers me,” she told ABC radio on Friday.
“I don’t see how you can avoid an independent inquiry now.”
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie said the prime minister was out of touch with how Australians wanted the issue dealt with.
“He probably needs to open his eyes and his ears and get on with this, and stop playing standing up for his mates,” she told ABC radio.
“Something has gone on here and we need to get to the bottom of it. We need to know why this lady has taken her life.”
Senator Lambie’s preference is for a coronial inquest into the woman’s death but she would also support an independent inquiry.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the matter couldn’t be finalised without a proper inquiry.
“We’re not talking about a private citizen,” he told the Nine Network.
“It’s not about the criminal standard of proof, it’s about the fact we’re talking about allegations which are hanging over the first law officer of the country.”
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the government was resolute that the rule of law had already been applied to the case.
“The prime minister’s been very clear we’re not having an independent inquiry,“ he told Nine.
“The inquiry’s been conducted by the police and these matters are properly investigated by the police. Not by journalists, not by online trending Twitter, you know, influencers.”
He said Mr Porter had given a proper account of his recollection in his strident denials when he identified himself as the accused minister on Wednesday.
The South Australian woman went to NSW police last year, but withdrew her complaint citing medical and personal reasons before taking her own life in June.
Mr Porter, who has the support of Mr Morrison, is on two weeks’ leave but insists he won’t quit cabinet.
Top lawyer and director for the Centre for Public Integrity Geoffrey Watson SC has rubbished the government’s focus on the rule of law.
“I’m sick and tired of hearing people cite the rule of law as an excuse for not doing something,” he told the ABC.
The government has been under intense pressure for weeks after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped by a colleague at parliament house.
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