September 15, 2021
Comment by Greg Ray
Even by the snake’s belly low standards of Australia’s present Federal Government, former Attorney-General Christian Porter’s “blind trust” humbug is startlingly bad.
Basically, he’s had his expensive failed legal action against the ABC at least partly bankrolled by wealthy donors whose identity he claims to be unaware of. If Porter is aiming for “plausible deniability” of the kind incessantly relied on by Prime Minister Scott Morrison for avoiding any kind of responsibility for anything, ever, then he has badly missed the mark. The blind trust story isn’t remotely plausible, and even if it was the concept he is promoting is so ludicrously banana-republic that even Mr Morrison must surely struggle to shrug it off. One imagines that even the frantically pro-government trolls on the Murdoch media payroll will find it hard to argue that Australian democracy can benefit from politicians getting truckloads of cash from apparently unknown benefactors.
And yet this blind faith, blind trust yarn is a fitting late chapter in a crazy saga that doesn’t seem to have any logical ending other than Mr Porter packing his bags, quitting politics and graciously agreeing to accept some costly taxpayer-funded sinecure that keeps him out of sight forever.
Consider the situation so far. It begins when allegations air on national television that a senior government figure once, in his youth, brutally raped a woman. Mr Porter reveals that he is the subject of the allegation, which he furiously denies. He launches a defamation action against the broadcaster which gets off to a suitably keystone cops start before he is made aware of the ABC’s proposed defence to the action. Having seen the defence, he withdraws his action and claims to have “won”, even though the ABC doesn’t apologise or withdraw the story from its website.
Among the many sad details of the ugly case we are told the woman suicided after learning that the NSW Police Force couldn’t see its way clear to allow her to complete the statement she had begun to make against the high-profile politician. So the police advice is that no charges can be laid against Mr Porter since the complainant is dead.
Mr Porter’s lawyers also succeed in persuading the court to agree that the ABC’s defence – destined not to see the light of day in the aborted hearing – must be buried from the public’s sight. It is out of bounds to the media outlets that are aware of the defence. It is a secret. Hush hush. All Australian voters know is that Mr Porter’s loudly trumpeted campaign to have his name cleared in the transparent forum of the court system was abruptly terminated as soon as he saw the defence that would be used against him.
Capping this run of surprising events in the world of law, order and justice, the former Attorney-General now has at least some of the tab for his expensive failed legal action picked up by an anonymous admirer. Or two. Or three. How fortunate for him.
And what a pleasant precedent for other politicians who will now realise how much trouble and anxiety may be avoided through the judicious use of “blind trusts” as pioneered by this remarkable legal mind and his kindly helpers. All they need do is establish a bank account into which any well-disposed person or corporation can deposit sums of money. Provided the politician doesn’t know who these kind-hearted donors are then all is above board and above reproach.
Mr Morrison has said he needs some time to look into the matter. He probably has to ask Jen whether a politician accepting a large sum of money from persons unknown is a fair enough thing.
Seriously, if Porter gets away with this then the game really is over and we voters might as well just give up. The fact that he even thinks it’s ok means his presence is Parliament is inconsistent with democracy. His time is up. He should go.