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Christian Porter avoids question over alleged staff relationship

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Attorney-General Christian Porter seems to have twisted his words to avoid a scathing question (Screenshot via YouTube)

Attorney-General Christian Porter has failed to answer an Independent Australia question regarding his 10 November interview with radio station 6PR about intimate relationships with staff.

During the interview with Gareth Parker on 6PR, he was asked:

“Did you, or have you ever had, an intimate relationship or intimate relations with a staffer?“

IA put it to Mr Porter in an email on 15 November:

‘You did not answer that question as such and questioning switched to the ministerial code of conduct relating to ministers and staffers.

 

In this regard, you answered: “I’ve never breached that ministerial code of conduct and there’s never been any suggestion that I have.”’

However, the ministerial code had been introduced in February 2018. The alleged incident involving a staff member took place in 2017.

Porter was Parliamentary Secretary to Prime Minister Tony Abbott from December 2014 to September 2015 and Minister for Social Service in the Turnbull Government from then to December 2017.

The IA question echoed the question put to him by Parker: 

“Did you, or have you ever had, an intimate relationship or intimate relations with a staffer?”

IA emailed the question to Mr Porter’s office on Sunday 15 November after the 6PR interview had been featured on ABC’s Insiders and checked with the office the following day to ensure the question was being dealt with.

When a reply had not been received by Wednesday, a call was made to a media advisor who said:

“The statement Christian put out last Monday is the statement he stands by.”

This was the statement of 10 November. It makes no mention at all of intimate relationships with staffers.

Mr Porter, a man used to being careful with his choice of words, had told Parker in the interview that he had never breached that code of conduct — introduced by Malcolm Turnbull on 15 February 2018.

Now, for the second time, he has failed to answer the question regarding intimate relationships with staffers.

Mr Porter, I note that during the interview with 6PR, excerpts of which were played on Insiders on 15 November, you were asked: 

“Did you, or have you ever had, an intimate relationship or intimate relations with a staffer?”

You did not answer that question as such and questioning switched to the ministerial code of conduct relating to ministers and staffers.

In this regard, you answered:

“I’ve never breached that ministerial code of conduct and there’s never been any suggestion that I have.”

I note that the ministerial code was introduced in February 2018.

My pedantic question, as put by Gareth Parker on 6PR: 

“Did you, or have you ever had, an intimate relationship or intimate relations with a staffer?”

Steve Bishop is a journalist and author. You can read more from Steve at stevebishop.net

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