No, Mr. Porter, that 's not OK.
The l The former attorney general is suing the ABC for libel over his reporting of historic rape allegations ended when he terminated the action.
ABC did not issue any retractions or apologies, but agreed to add a note from the editor to the article stating that she did not intend to suggest that Porter committed the alleged offense and that "both parties accept that some readers have misinterpreted the article as a guilty charge against Mr. Porter. The ABC paid no restitution, although it did bear the costs of the mediation.
This left Christian Porter to bear his own costs. Even taking into account a surrender from his senior lawyer, Sue Chrysanthou, legal sources believe hisfinances touched $ 600,000 to $ 1 million.
That must hurt.
Monday , he adjusted the parliamentary register to reveal that an angel slipped him "part " of the fees.
His benefactor, he says , is a "blind trust known as the Legal Services Trust".
The legal structure means, he says, "I do not have access to information "on the conduct of the trust or its financing.
He does not say how much he received. Maybe a million. Maybe $ 500 and a birthday card. We'll probably never know. But it's a safe bet that if he had been at the bottom of the ladder, he would have pointed it out.
We know he perceives a potential apprehension of conflict because that 's what the parliamentary register is for. It exists only for MPs todeclare gi fts and other financial arrangements which “may conflict, or may be perceived to conflict, with (the parliamentarian's) public duty”.
The Porter's register also mentions his role as the boss of the Midland Junction Poultry Society. New members are welcome, the company's website says, as it "promotes, educates and encourages the breeding and display of purebred poultry ". more about the Midland Junction Poultry Society than the person or people who gave maybe up to a million dollars to a sitting minister.
Porter claims, improbably or not, that he does not know who gave him the money. Despite all the speculation currently circulating, the public doesn't know it either.
But surely they have the right to do so.
Porter may have lost his job as legal adviserchief of the country, but he remains Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. If the money comes from a high net worth individual, it is possible that his source of wealth is from business interests that are within his own wallet.
What is to stop, once all of this is over, a well-heeled figure creeping up to the minister and revealing himself as the benefactor? Perhaps by offering the last four digits of the bank account to prove their good faith. Then the discreet request for compensation.
Could this benefactor have links with a foreign government? Or organized crime? Did Porter seek advice from the security agencies?
This is so clearly susceptible to peril, undue influence or even blackmail, it is amazing that he didn't. just say no.
As phantom attorney general Mark Dreyfus,says: "If Mr. Porter really doesn't know who his donors are, he shouldn't be accepting their money.
Things have been difficult these late for the former Western Australian golden boy.Since his second marriage ended last year, he has sold investment property in Wembley, WA, and his Canberra residence in Kingston.
Whoever helped him with his legal fees only needed to register these property movements in the parliamentary register to know that there was a man likely to be grateful for a helping hand.
But all of this assumes he has no idea who faced the 'money.
Is it possible that he sought help among the wealthy members of WA's liberal elites as his legal fees began? quickly to increase? If so, he may not knowI'm not specifically who tipped the Legal Services Trust in cash, but he might have a pretty good idea.
If so - well sure we don't know if this is the case - that would indeed be of great concern, potentially making it likely
- if not actually binding it - to do favors.
Whatever the answer, if that holds up, there are two immediate tragedies for Australian public life. The precedent is now established that senior federal politicians can accept large sums by pretending not to know who sent them.
And for Porter's specific wallet, if Australia is to win more token efforts to tackle climate change - and if it's "technology not taxes " that will get us there - the office of the Minister of Industry, science and technology doesn 't have jamwas also important.
Yet we have a minister who cannot hold a press conference without being besieged with valid questions about the origin of his funds private. A shy minister with guns at a critical moment.
Pitiful. And completely preventable.
- Hugh Riminton is the editor of national affairs at 10 News First