Former small business minister Bruce Billson

Porter clearing house Much of today’s Crikey is dedicated to the masterclass of deflection, equivocation, misrepresentation and abrogation of responsibility that was Attorney-General Christian Porter’s denial of historical rape allegations yesterday.

Perhaps the clearest example of this is in Porter’s unequivocal statement that he had never been given a chance to respond to the “substantive” allegations against him:

No one put anything in any detail to me seeking a response.

None of the senior politicians or ex-politicians that have known about these allegations and rumours have ever put them to me.

No journalist has ever put the detail of the allegations to me in a way that would allow seeking a response. Not ever.

This is this, at best, extremely shifty language. Crikey put questions to his office. So did Kate McClymont. So did Neil Mitchell. So did Samantha Maiden. So did Jacqueline Maley. None could get an response.

Porter’s media team has been forced to issue a snippy “clarification”, arguing that: “Clearly, in considering the attorney-general’s media conference in full, he was referring to never having received in any substantive form, the allegations against him before they were aired on the ABC last Friday”.

Read the excerpt above again, or the transcript of the whole press conference. Porter, several times, categorically states that “not ever” had “any journalist” put the detail of the allegations to him.

Taking out the trash Yesterday was a good day for corporations and politicians to dump bad news, as Australia’s media was otherwise occupied, first marvelling at Grace Tame’s timely and powerful speech at the National Press Club and then waiting with bated breath for Porter’s press conference. And so NSW Liberal MP John Sidoti resigned as sports minister with rare speed after the state’s ICAC announced it would hold a public inquiry into his property dealings.

Then it was confirmed that Bruce Billson, the former small business minister and one of the few politicians who actually managed to get censured by parliament (for failing to disclose that he received a salary from the Franchise Council of Australia before he’d even left parliament) was appointed to replace Kate Carnell as small business ombudsman.

And Rio Tinto chairman Simon Thompson announced he would resign over the cultural vandalism that destroyed the Juukan Gorge caves in Western Australia. All were afforded an easier ride in the media than might otherwise have been the case.

(Though it doesn’t qualify in the same way, many companies will also be glad that fewer eyeballs were directed at The New Daily’s mammoth look at the huge profits enjoyed by many who nevertheless kept their JobKeeper payments.)

Shorten sweet With Porter on leave, the country has been left with famous rule of law fan Michaelia Cash as acting attorney-general.

Among the many people gobsmacked by the news was former opposition leader Bill Shorten, who had been subject to Cash’s use of state apparatus to discredit political opponents during the Registered Organisations Commission/Australian Worker’s Union saga. He made his feelings clear, tweeting: “You can’t write this shit”.

Maybe it was a deliberate “mistake”, the most recent attempt to start a rumour that Shorten has a personality. Or maybe someone told him that he of all people should not be making the day about him. Either way, the tweet was swiftly deleted.

The judge of that However much we are sickened by the “as the father of daughters” formulation wheeled out by Scott Morrison and many others as they grapple with the notion of women as human beings, it’s worth considering that this view still infects so many consequential areas of life.

Consider the following from the judgment in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal published only yesterday, sent in by a legal tipster (emphasis ours):

“Her honour’s statement, that ‘[i]n order for there to be prospects of rehabilitation, it is necessary for there to be some acknowledgment of wrongdoing, which is entirely absent in the present case’, was incorrect in principle.

“Although the respondent submitted that the conclusion that there could be no finding that there were prospects of rehabilitation was not in error in the circumstances of the case, given the findings about lack of remorse, hubris, sense of entitlement, and that he believed that the ends justified the means, there were contrary indicators: the applicant was of prior good character, having no relevant criminal record; he was well-educated, connected and intelligent; he is married with three daughters, and his wife and daughters continue to visit and support him in custody; and as her honour accepted, he is unlikely to require assistance to reintegrate into the community notwithstanding a lengthy non-parole period.

“Those factors point to some prospect that he will one day be able to resume a worthwhile role as an honourable citizen.”

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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