On the issue of whether Christian Porter is a “fit and proper person” to continue in the role of the Attorney General there is no need to hold a public enquiry. As I have already stated, here The Porter case unfolds as classic Greek tragedy the enquiry will hit the same road-blocks as a formal trial would.
Without a witness, without proof of a crime, he is unable to be sanctioned for a truly disturbing accusation, which he has asked us to imagine, as having never happened. The woman, who accused him, by name, died at her own hand. Incredibly, he and the Prime Minister have not read the accusation. Neither have they, as far as I can recall, mentioned her by name.
I would be inclined to declare both of them unfit, for the studied lack of care they have shown. She is a political problem, now. Neither of the two men could be bothered to read her cry of pain, which told her story.
Any employer, with an ounce of intelligence and any ‘people skills’ whatsoever, would sit down and examine Mr Porter’s background, his track record, his demeanour, his strengths and weaknesses, and his ability to work in a team. That would just be the start. Has he been doing the job well, so far? If someone equally qualified presented his or herself, would you hang on to him, or move him on, to something better suited to his abilities?
No need to call in the lawyers; no need to stall, or give misleading answers about police investigations which have finished without result; no need to cite a coronial inquest, which would only inquire into the cause of death, and would never include any underlying trauma, real or imagined. That is the wonder of the law – it only looks where it is allowed to.
Those options are pure illusion, anyway. Morrison is kicking the can down the road, a transparent ruse with which to buy time. Because this leader does not like to make decisions. He appears to rely on the passage of time. Perhaps it will all blow over. Could another plague appear?
The HR professional’s advice would be to look at the duties and responsibilities of the position, look at the candidate, and evaluate. Will he be able to perform, or continue to perform, to the standard required? Will he be able to work within the team? Will he, because it is essentially a ‘public service’ role, be able to represent the interests of all constituents? Will he be good for the unity of the country?
Will the consumers (voters) trust his abilities, and his character, because the role, that of Attorney General, is one which encompasses a broad range of sensitive areas, from Family Law to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), to the administration of courts. He has, in the eyes of many, fallen at almost every hurdle.
He has a history of pushing terrible legislation through, including mandatory sentences for manslaughter, when he was Attorney General in W.A. He certainly lacks empathy, but that has been shown to be no disadvantage in this neoliberal era.
In the federal arena, perhaps his worst decision was the sociopathic Robodebt, but his prosecution of Bernard Collaery and his client Witness K, in which he relentlessly set out to destroy a whistleblower, against illegal acts committed by an Australian Government, would rival it. Remember he is the person in charge of the operation of the courts in Australia, and he is currently operating a genuine ‘kangaroo court’.
His reactionary social views are well known. He is a fan of the current age of criminal liability, where children as young as ten, many with cognisant disabilities, are jailed. See here In Australia we jail children, as young as 10
Of course there should have been a continuing review process, which looked at the individual, and his performance, and whether he could improve, if improvement was needed. Any such review would have noted his seeming inability to act in a non-partisan way, for the good of the country.
His handing out of positions on the AAT has been scandalous. He appointed a Liberal Party ex-senator to a position as Deputy President and Division Head of the Social Services and Child Support Division, notwithstanding the fact that she was not qualified, according to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal Act, and also that she had no experience in the area, and she was not interviewed by the selection panel. She is paid close to a half million dollars every year. Wow. That is great work, if you can get it.
After the Federal Court’s finding that Immigration Minister Alan Tudge had engaged in criminal conduct, by detaining an asylum-seeker for five days, in defiance of an order by the AAT, Mr Porter replied that the Minister was simply following Government policy. That was a judge speaking, about an unlawful detention. It is quite a statement from the Commonwealth’s first law officer.
These are just a sampler of the instances where Christian Porter has shown himself as being unfit for the office of Attorney General. If Scott Morrison had an ounce of integrity, and competence, he would show Christian Porter the door. But numbers count in a tight situation.
There is another, even more compelling reason why he should not be Attorney General. I cannot think of an Australian woman who would be happy to work alongside Christian Porter at the current time, and regardless of enquiries held, or not, you cannot have, as a crucial part of your team, someone who is not wholly trusted, by close to half the population. Nothing will fix that situation.