Australia watched in shock as Attorney-General Christian Porter reveled himself to be the person accused of raping a 16-year-old girl in 1988, allegations which he wholly denies.
The alleged rape was first reported to police in February, 2020, before the woman took her own life in June of that year. The government was formally made aware of the allegations last week, but it wasn’t until Wednesday that Porter publicly admitted that he was the alleged perpetrator.
In his emotional press conference, he denied the allegations and said that he wouldn’t be stepping down as Attorney-General.
“If you could just imagine, and I know that we’re all cynics and this is a hard and tough environment, but just imagine for a second that it’s not true, that for whatever the recollection and belief that im sure was strongly held, it’s just not true, just imagine it for a second,” he said, on the verge of tears.
Right off the bat, people criticised Porter for what they perceived to be crocodile tears and for just centering the whole thing around himself instead of, you know, the alleged victim, her family and her friends.
“Whispering campaign” “I hope this isn’t the new normal” “if I were to resign that would set a new normal”
He positioning himself as a brave hero. That’s the strategy. Shaking with fucking rage.
— Rosie Waterland (@RosieWaterland) March 3, 2021
you're in the civil service, it's meant to be about your work for the public, not primarily your career
amazing he prioritised his self-defense rather than underlining: this is a tragedy, violence is a huge problem, i can't imagine what those who experience it go through
— Lauren Carroll Harris (@DrLaurenCH) March 3, 2021
Christian Porter making himself the victim here and acting like a noble hero to stop other people losing their jobs or whatever is making me sick. actually nauseous.
— Alex Bruce-Smith (@alexbrucesmith) March 3, 2021
Regardless of whether or not the allegations are true – and to be clear he totally denies the allegations – now is not the time to be playing the victim.
Many on social media expressed the view that it’s pretty poor taste to cry victim when a woman has literally taken her own life, especially when in the context an alleged rape.
Sorry that Christian Porter isn’t okay but neither is the alleged victim who took her own life after allegedly being raped.
— Lav Baj (@lavosaurus) March 3, 2021
The bit in Promising Young Woman where a guy says ‘being accused of that is every guy’s worst nightmare’ and Cassie replies ‘Wanna know what every woman’s is?’
— Deirdre (@figgled) March 3, 2021
I’m still stuck on him crying crocodile tears and talking about the fear of losing his career, only for him to assert he isn’t stepping down, while a woman has lost her entire LIFE
— cathy (@catherinebouris) March 3, 2021
Oh my god. Christian Porter praising the luxury of professional mental health support available to him in the wake of what happened to this poor woman. I can't even.
— Marieke Hardy (@mariekehardy) March 3, 2021
Sure suicide is bad but have you tried being me this last week?
— Benjamin Millar (@BenjaminMillar) March 3, 2021
People then started questioning a whole bunch of aspects in Porter’s story.
Things like his sporadic memories from that night or his recollection of events more recently raised more questions than they appeared to answer.
Is Christian Porter saying he still hasn't been given a copy of the letter sent to the Prime Minister, Penny Wong and Sarah Hanson-Young?
— Maddison Connaughton (@madconnaughton) March 3, 2021
I'm very interested that Christian Porter "can't remember [the situation] very well" but knows he definitely didn't do it.
— Alex Anastassiou (@alexanasta_) March 3, 2021
I've emailed every single male cabinet minister's media team multiple times this week and have not received any response from anyone
— Amber Schultz (@AmberMaySchultz) March 3, 2021
I will not allow trial by media
What about trial by law then?
Hmm no thanks
— Alex Lee (@alex_c_lee) March 3, 2021
Heaps of people also slammed Porter for saying he simply couldn’t step aside because it’s set a precedent.
“My guess is that if I were to resign, and that were to set a new standard, there would be no need for an Attorney-General because there would be no rule of law left to protect in this country,” he said in his press conference.
if i step down, australia will lose rule of law. incredible
— Bec Shaw (@Brocklesnitch) March 3, 2021
Am going to go out on a limb and say if Porter stood aside, the rule of law would still exist in Australia
— Greg Jericho (@GrogsGamut) March 3, 2021
The A-G just said that if he were to step down over unprosecuted rape allegations it would be the end of the rule of law. Yesterday I appeared at an inquiry into a govt Bill that would deny people the right to hear or respond to the case against them before being deported. Irony.
— Sangeetha Pillai (@sangpillai) March 3, 2021
People also found it frustrating that Porter wanted sympathy when his own damn party appears to have shown little sympathy for the struggles of others.
Aside from Porter himself overseeing the implementation of Robodebt when he was Minister for Social Services, the current Liberal government has plenty of other policies which could probably have used a little more empathy during the planning process.
Porter was social services minister when Robodebt was brought in. He never shed a single tear for any of the people illegally victimised, some of whom are dead. Did he ever cry over two little innocent children locked up on Christmas Island? Or asylum seekers illegally detained?
— Isy Oderberg (@yodaberg) March 3, 2021
they love cancel culture for the poor (cancelling welfare and demonising people who are vulnerable) but hate cancel culture for them (aka asking for accountability over a rape allegation)
— yeah nah (@jennineak) March 3, 2021
If the rule of law is so important to Porter, I would like to hear how he thinks the abolition of the family court will affect survivors of gender-based violence
— lyndal rowlands (@LyndalRowlands) March 3, 2021
The fact that he wanted to put politics aside for the moment also felt a bit hypocritical for many people.
Amazing how his tears disappear when going the former opposition leader.
— Amy Gray (@_AmyGray_) March 3, 2021
It’s weird to see a member of government criticising the “hyper-politicisation” that has been fostered by his own party… very odd.
— Claire Connelly (@_ClaireConnelly) March 3, 2021
In summary, we’re not saying the allegations are true, but rather that the whole press conference was a shit show and it seems little will change in the near future.
Alleged rape in parliament house.
An alleged rapist as Australia's first law officer.
An epidemic of sexual assault in our aged care system.
Victim-blaming from the chief of our defence force.
This nation is sick. And so are the people in charge.
— Benjamin Law 羅旭能 (@mrbenjaminlaw) March 3, 2021
— Patricia Karvelas (@PatsKarvelas) March 3, 2021
While he’s not standing down, Christian Porter is going on a bit of a break to mentally and emotionally regroup.
In the meantime, the acting Attorney-General will be Michaelia Cash… the recent boss of alleged Parliament House rape survivor Brittany Higgins.
Another day in Australia.
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you’d like to speak to someone about sexual violence, please call the 1800 Respect hotline on 1800 737 732 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.