Scott Morrison covid-19
Prime Minister Scott Morrison (Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

Note: this story contains references to sexual assault.

What has emerged from Christian Porter’s media conference this afternoon — where he vehemently and repeatedly denied the allegations made against him in relation to a sexual assault in 1988 — is a remarkable lack of curiosity on the part of multiple parties about some of the gravest claims that can be made against any individual, let alone one occupying the position of chief law officer of the Commonwealth.

First is Porter’s own lack of curiosity about allegations he claims he was aware were circulating about last November — that he had “offended against” (his words) a woman in the past. Porter did not seek to obtain details of the allegations or see the documents involved. And, when asked by the prime minister last Wednesday about the allegations, Porter merely denied them, and did not ask to see the documents involved.

And as part of his insistence that he is the victim of a trial by media (and especially the ABC), Porter says no one has put the allegations to him — a claim that may yet be fiercely contested by others.

It has no bearing on the veracity of the claims made against Porter which, to repeat, he rejects completely. But it is peculiar behaviour for the first law officer of the Commonwealth to be so completely uninterested in claims that would be politically destructive, even to the point of not being sufficiently moved to ask the prime minister to hand a copy to him when asked about them.

But it enabled Porter to insist this afternoon that he had no idea about the claims made against them and to profess outrage that he had been subjected to such a “whispering campaign”.

Then there is Scott Morrison’s own lack of curiosity. The prime minister says he was “fully briefed” on the claims made against Porter but did not bother to read the relevant documents. Nor did he show Porter the documents — an incurious prime minister and an incurious attorney-general.

Add that to the NSW Police, who concluded that the matter was closed despite not having contacted Porter about the claims, or having showed him the documents or detailed the allegations against him — details that Porter today said he was hearing for the first time from the media. The NSW police were, it seems also incurious about what the subject of the allegations had to say.

Interesting behaviour from two groups — police and politicians — who are normally obsessively interested in finding things out — especially if it’s about themselves.

If you or someone you know is impacted by sexual assault or violence, call 1800RESPECT on 1800 737 732 or visit 1800RESPECT.org.au.

Peter Fray

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