Former Attorney General (and current Industry and Science Minister) Christian Porter has resigned from Prime Minister Scott Morrison‘s ministry, after revealing he accepted an anonymous donation to pay part of his personal legal fees.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that Porter accepted an anonymous donation to help cover part of his legal fees from his discontinued defamation case against the ABC and Four Corners reporter Louise Milligan. The defamation case was regarding allegations against Porter for rape, which he categorically denies. You can read more about the case here.
The mystery donation was met with questions on whether there could be a conflict of interest, considering Porter said he did not have access to information on who the donor was.
Labor’s Attorney-General spokesman Mark Dreyfus aired concerns regarding who funded the legal case, and if they “expected anything in return.”
The amount that was donated wasn’t specified, though Porter’s legal costs were expected to reach as high as $1 million.
Scott Morrison asked Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Phil Gaetjens, to investigate whether the situation breached ministerial codes.
The PM is yet to receive the advice over whether or not Christian Porter breached ministerial standards – he says Porter made the decision himself to resign as a minister as he is unable to declare who donated to his 'blind trust' https://t.co/pUjMGkI71m
— Amy Remeikis (@AmyRemeikis) September 19, 2021
Now, on Sunday, Scott Morrison has announced that Christian Porter wasn’t able to provide the necessary information to “avoid any perception of conflicts of interest”, and had decided to resign.
“He has this afternoon taken the appropriate course of action to uphold those standards by tendering his resignation as a minister this afternoon, and I have accepted his resignation,” Morrison said, per the ABC.
Christian Porter has released a 1,600 word statement on the matter, insisting his disclosure was within the rules.
Christian Porter has just released a 1600-word statement on his resignation
says he was "not willing to put pressure on the Trust to provide me with any further information" on donors, claiming it would make them "targets of the social media mob" pic.twitter.com/OFShiMJaWD
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) September 19, 2021
A significant portion (almost two out of the three pages) of the statement details his feelings of injustice around the ABC article that began the defamation case at the centre of his resignation, accusing publishers and social media users of subjecting him to a trial by media and abandoning the presumption of innocence.
Porter then went on to say that the anonymous donors “contributed to a Trust on the basis of confidentiality and a belief that their contribution would remain confidential”.
He claimed the trustee “provided me an assurance that none of the contributors were lobbyists or prohibited foreign entities”, but conceded that the disclosure had created an “unhelpful distraction for the government”.
“Ultimately, I decided that if I have to make a choice between seeking to pressure the trust to break individuals’ confidentiality in order to remain in Cabinet, or alternatively forego my Cabinet position, there is only one choice I could, in all conscience, make,” Christian Porter said.
“Consequently, I provided the Prime Minister with my resignation earlier today.
“It is effective immediately.”
This doesn’t mean Christian Porter has resigned from politics in general though — he’s still on the backbench.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor will temporarily take responsibility for Christian Porter’s portfolios.