Christian Porter announces he will QUIT politics in the wake of unproven ‘rape’ claims and anonymous donor controversy – on the day Greg Hunt revealed he will resign in a double blow to Scott Morrison
Christian Porter has declared he will resign from politics at next year’s election and Greg Hunt is expected to do the same on Thursday.
The former attorney general announced on Wednesday afternoon he will not recontest the marginal seat of Pearce in WA.
The 51-year-old, who saw himself as a future prime minister, has been under huge pressure since outing himself as the minister accused of an historic rape in 1998 to deny the allegations.
Christian Porter (pictured last week in Parliament) will resign from politics at the next election
In a lengthy resignation statement, Mr Porter – who has been relentlessly trolled online – hit out at his critics, saying: ‘Perhaps the only certainty now is that there appears to be no limit to what some will say or allege or do to gain an advantage over a perceived enemy.
‘This makes the harshness that can accompany the privilege of representing people, harder than ever before.’
The former public prosecutor, who split from second wife Jennifer in January 2020, said he will spend more time with his son and daughter.
‘My little boy was born one day before I first became a Commonwealth Minister. He and his little sister have never known anything but their father’s regular absence and so the next part of my working life will be anchored around being close to them and being there for them,’ he said.
In an extraordinary press briefing in Perth in March, a shattered and tearful Mr Porter confirmed he attended a debating competition at Sydney University with his accuser when he was 17 and she was 16, but categorically denied ever sleeping with the woman who has since taken her own life.
The rape allegations did not end Mr Porter’s cabinet career but he moved to the backbench after failing to disclose wealthy donors to his defamation case against the ABC.
The MP resigned as science minister over anger that he accepted an anonymous donation to help cover legal costs estimated to be worth $600,000 to $1million.
Christian Porter and ex-wife Jennifer in 2018
The donation was made through a blind trust which means the identity of the donor or donors is kept secret.
Mining magnate Gina Rinehart, media mogul Kerry Stokes, and Fortescue Metals Group chairman Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest each denied handing cash to Mr Porter’s fund.
Mr Porter’s accuser claimed he raped her at a Sydney debating competition when she was 16 and he was 17 in 1988.
She later withdrew her claim and took her own life in June 2020 after suffering from mental illness.
Mr Porter denied any sexual activity took place and sued the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan in March, claiming he was the victim of a malicious ‘trial by media’.
After mediation, Mr Porter – who was not charged after a police investigation – decided to drop his case against the ABC in May.
He was not paid any settlement fee but the ABC was required to update its article with an editors’ note expressing ‘regret’ that readers may have thought the minister was guilty.
It comes amid reports that Mr Hunt will announce his retirement on Thursday. His office has refused to respond to the reports.
The 56-year-old has been the MP for Flinders in Victoria since 2001 and played a major role in the Federal Government’s response to Covid as Health Minister
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg did not confirm or deny the report but paid tribute to his ‘friend’ and fellow Victorian in a press conference on Wednesday morning.
‘Greg is my closest friend in this place. I am the godfather to his beautiful daughter Bobby and he is the godfather to my daughter Gemma,’ he said.
‘We are very dear friends and he has been an outstanding Health Minister through this crisis.
Mr Hunt, a father of two, is pictured with his wife Paula after a fun run
‘The fact that Australia has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world and the fact that we have one of the highest vaccination rates in the world is in due to no small part to the incredible work that all health professionals have done across Australia, and Greg as the Health Minister on this once in a century pandemic has been outstanding,’ Mr Frydenberg said.
Mr Hunt is expected to remain Health Minister until the election which is due by May 2022.
He holds Flinders on a margin of 5.64 per cent.
Christian Porter’s resignation statement in full
A message to the people of my electorate
In 2013, you entrusted me to represent you in our nation’s Parliament. Between 2008 and 2013 I also had the honour of serving in the Parliament of Western Australia and before that I started in public service as a Crown Prosecutor at the Western Australian Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 2002.
Since joining the DPP 20 years ago, with a few short breaks, I have spent the best part of the last 20 years in public service. This week however, I made the decision that I will not recontest the seat of Pearce at the next Federal Election and I have informed the Prime Minister of that decision.
It was at the DPP 20 years ago that I learned the great value in public service, of committing yourself to work that you believe in and that you believe is important.
Some people spend long political careers working incredibly hard but nevertheless remaining distant from the great responsibility and honour of being in a ministry or representing their Nation in its Cabinet. In the years since 2008 I have been deeply fortunate to spend 11 years in ministries and only a few months in opposition. It has been a remarkable privilege to have been a State Attorney General and State Treasurer in Western Australia and to have been the Commonwealth Minister for Social Services, Industry, Science and Technology and serve as Commonwealth Attorney General and Industrial Relations Minister and Leader of the House of Representatives.
Looking back at my time as a Minister the trust that was placed in me by Premier Colin Barnett and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, meant that for much of my time in Cabinet I was entrusted with multiple senior portfolios at once. That was a challenge that I always gave everything to and when working for the Australian public in these roles I never left anything in the tank.
When you are an obsessive compulsive type and entrusted with work that you believe in and that you believe is deeply important, the by-product becomes that people in your life that deserve more from you, especially your family, get much less than they deserve. My little boy was born one day before I first became a Commonwealth Minister. He and his little sister have never known anything but their father’s regular absence and so the next part of my working life will be anchored around being close to them and being there for them.
There are few, if any, constants left in modern politics. Perhaps the only certainty now is that there appears to be no limit to what some will say or allege or do to gain an advantage over a perceived enemy. This makes the harshness that can accompany the privilege of representing people, harder than ever before. But even though I have experienced perhaps more of the harshness of modern politics than most, there are no regrets.
It has been the experience of a lifetime to work with great teams of men and women to drive change and to govern during remarkable times, including the most demanding time for Government since WWII. I feel that not a moment of the last 14 years was wasted and I am thankful for the opportunity and friendship provided by my Parliamentary colleagues and the men and women of the Liberal Party. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, friends and the dedication of staff (some who started with me 20 years ago).
Ultimately, it has always started and finished with the people of my electorate. I started with the promise to fix the GST for the people of my electorate and while it took years I was part of the small group in Federal Cabinet that made it happen for WA. Since 2013 I have been dedicated to securing critical funding for projects that had been long neglected and would improve the lives of people in our local community. This included hundreds of millions of dollars to extend and widen the Mitchell Freeway, over a billion dollars to fund the Yanchep and Ellenbrook rail lines, completion of the $1 billion Northlink project (WA’s biggest ever road project), the Beverley Cornerstone project, the Northam Aquatic Centre and the Toodyay Sport and Recreation Precinct just to name a few.
Before each election I have always asked myself whether I could absolutely guarantee another three years of total commitment to the electorate because people deserve that commitment, free of any reservations. After a long time giving everything I could to the people of Pearce it’s now time to give more of what is left to those around me whose love has been unconditional. The Federal Liberal Party have done great things for the electorate of Pearce and I know a new Liberal candidate can continue the trusted record of serving the needs of the electorate under a re-elected Coalition Government.
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