Questions were asked about Attorney General Christian Porter’s attitudes toward women after a Four Corners investigation uncovered a history of sexism and inappropriate behavior.
- Research by Four Corners reveals concerns about Christian Porter’s attitudes towards women dating back decades.
- His alleged behavior includes undesirable advances in women in the Federal Office
- Mr. Porter issued a statement denying the claims made against him
Following revelations, Mr. Porter was warned by then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull about public behavior with a young employee, which contributed to Mr. Turnbull’s infamous “Bonk Ban”. The investigation also found that concerns about the attorney general’s behavior go back decades.
The alleged conduct includes public drunkenness and undesirable advances in women during his time in federal politics. Other allegations date back to his student days as a debater and later as a prosecutor in WA.
Four Corners has spoken to dozens of former and current political officials, MPs, and legal professionals.
Many have worked within, were members of, or voted for the Liberal Party and many have voluntarily provided examples of what they consider inappropriate behavior on the part of Mr Porter that has continued since his appointment to federal political office.
Barrister Kathleen Foley was trained in the debate by Mr. Porter when she was 16 and was with him at the University of Western Australia. She later worked as a Washington prosecutor when Mr. Porter was a Washington prosecutor.
“All this time I knew him as someone who I thought was deeply sexist and actually misogynist in his treatment of women, the way he talked about women,” said Ms. Foley.
Mr. Porter studied at the University of Western Australia for nearly a decade, and his drinking and non-colored comments were frequently published in Law Students’ magazine, Briefs. Many of the articles and comments were written by Mr. Porter himself when he was in his mid twenties.
“Christian’s personality, particularly at UWA … was the sideline for women in whatever forum they wanted to be involved in,” said Ms. Foley.
“You were treated as a joke; they were objects of ridicule. The only point for women, as far as I could tell from Christian’s way of treating women, was that he hit them or made fun of women. especially for the way they looked. “
Mr Porter wrote about a debate on “Lawyers are only well-dressed prostitutes” at the age of 24, saying, “Our opposition case had more holes than Snow White’s hymen,” and joked that his opponents “suffered from lack of oxygen” at birth “.
“These guys were awful! Helen Keller could have made a better fist out of it, ”he said, referring to the famous blind and deaf writer.
He joked about his drinking and “moody” behavior, saying he would “mess my way through law school.”
The letters reported that Mr. Porter did six pub crawls at the so-called “RU Barking?” At RU Barking, students ran to various pubs in Perth with plastic bags on their wrists that would fill them with vomit.
Mr Porter wrote of female contestants – whom he called RU Barking “chick teams” – that they were “about as gratuitous and repulsive” [a] Representation of the feminine sensuality that has ever appeared on RU Barking “.
“If anything, all of these teams have been just a revelation of the fact that they all have wildly exaggerated positive body images,” he wrote.
Describing a soccer game, Mr Porter said a highlight was “the water girls, although they should probably shower more often”.
A graduation profile of Mr. Porter when he was 26 years old said he would be remembered: “Vomiting on the continental – on the dance floor!”
It was predicted that in 10 years’ time, Mr. Porter would “be running for prime minister. To be expelled from the Liberal Party for being a fat, unattractive, sexist, political power broker who tried to stick his tongue in a secretary’s ear ”.
After graduating from university, Christian Porter was nominated for Bachelor of the Year by Cleo magazine in 1999. In the article, he was asked which song he would choose to serenade a woman.
Mr Porter chose Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust.
His self-portrait was a stick figure figure that had to be censored for drawing it with large genitals. At that time, Christian Porter was 28 years old.
Ms. Foley said Mr. Porter “didn’t change” in his thirties when he left university. She remembered some of the comments he’d made at the time that she’d remember forever.
“I remember him commenting that he would never date a woman who weighed over 50 pounds,” she said.
“I noticed that. I also remember a relationship of his that ended and he commented that the woman concerned was thin enough but she didn’t have big enough tits, and the next woman he’d meet so far it had to be so thin, but have bigger tits. “
Mr. Porter practiced as a prosecutor with the WA DPP and worked part-time at the University of Western Australia as a lecturer in evidence law.
Four Corners spoke to some of its former UWA students who have described incidents of inappropriate behavior. This included sexualized comments on female students and a gratuitous focus on violent and sexually vivid material in the legal cases he taught.
Behavioral concerns remained in Canberra
Concern about his behavior persisted in Canberra.
Mr Porter was officially reprimanded in 2017 by former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull for his drunk behavior in public with young women.
Green Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Four Corners that a young Liberal worker tearfully asked her advice on what to do about a friendly relationship she was in with Mr Porter.
“One particular conversation I remember was a general conversation with a rather distressed young woman who was very upset about what was going on in the office she worked in,” said Senator Hanson-Young .
“She had found herself in a position where at some point she no longer wanted to be there.
“And I think this is a terrible situation for any young woman she finds herself in.”
Senator Hanson-Young said she felt the young employee felt “quite isolated”.
“She started to cry. And it was pretty clear to me that there was a lot more going on than she could tell, ”said the Senator.
“What I saw, and I can only speak from my experience, was that this young woman was real, was not happy about the situation she was in, was concerned about it and talked about it, she talked about it, being trapped feel that she was trapped in this situation. “
Liberal collaborator Rachelle Miller, who told Four Corners that she was having an affair with Minister Alan Tudge, said there was a “significant power imbalance” in relations between ministers and staff.
“I think it is imperative that there is confirmation that this type of behavior is wrong,” Ms. Miller said.
“Indeed, I would say that this type of behavior will not be tolerated at any level, as I have spent two years in the private sector since leaving Parliament.”
Mr. Porter and Mr. Tudge did not provide on-record responses to Four Corners’ multiple requests for interviews and did not answer detailed questions.
“In my time as an AG, I had no complaints or suggestions from Malcolm regarding the performance of my duties as an AG, until his Prime Minister’s last week, when we had a significant disagreement over Peter Dutton’s citizenship,” Porter’s testimony said.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the ministers’ spouses had made great sacrifices and ministers should respect them.
“Ministers should be very aware that their spouses and children sacrifice a lot to support their political careers and that their families deserve honor and respect,” Turnbull said.
“Of course, politicians have a right to private life. But they should be of really high standards in the workplace and in public.
“You know, you can’t get away from people looking up to their leaders, they look up to politicians, and when they see politicians doing the wrong thing in any way, it undermines trust in the system.”
Ms. Foley said the role of the Commonwealth Attorney General is fundamental.
“The attorney general is the pinnacle of the legal profession,” said Ms. Foley.
“It would undermine the entire legal system if the Attorney General is someone who does not share the values that the legal system shares.
“Equality before the law and non-discrimination are an integral part of our legal system. Having a prosecutor general who treats women and thinks about women the way Christian does is deeply problematic for me. ”
After the Four Corners story aired, Christian Porter made a statement stating:
“At first I apologize for material I wrote while studying law 24 years ago. Obviously I wouldn’t write that now, and I regret that.
“As a university lecturer, I taught criminal law and evidence. Naturally, this includes dealing with topics and images. It is unfair to say that I have focused on this required area of teaching free of charge.
“I haven’t spoken significantly to… Ms. Foley… in decades, so I’m surprised to hear you think about my character for so long after I’ve known her.
“But 4 Corners depictions of interactions in the bar are categorically rejected.
“Sarah Hanson Young’s allegations … They are rejected as totally false.”
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