Christian Porter defamation
(Image: AAP/Mick Tsikas)

The price the ABC was prepared to pay, to be rid of Christian Porter’s defamation case in which he claimed that it had labelled him a “brutal anal rapist”, had two controversial parts to it: a payment of $100,000, described publicly as the cost of the mediation which had resulted in the settlement, and a consent order that the “redacted” 27 pages of its own defence be kept permanently suppressed.

Controversial, for different reasons. The money part was an agreed sleight of hand, given there was no way the mediation cost that much, and it would have held more integrity for the ABC to admit it was to some extent buying its way out of the litigation. Cheaply, at that, given what the case would have cost to run.

The ABC’s concession to conceal most of its own defence was the more interesting move, given what it said about the public broadcaster’s own commitment to transparency in the public interest. Assuming that it was confident that what it had filed with the court was appropriate and solidly backed by evidence -- with a legal team headed by Justin Gleeson SC, that’s a fair assumption -- it was quite a radical step to then want to withdraw it and keep it from the public forever.