Christian Porter rape allegation: Liberals hoist on their own petard

Christian Porter rape allegation: Liberals hoist on their own petard. By James Allan.

It is plain that no one can protect himself against decades-old rape allegations from someone who had over a quarter of a century to pursue having charges brought and chose not to do so.

In the absence of physical evidence of any kind and no third party verifications no such allegations can ever meet the ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ standard. …

Of course there is a different angle to this story, one related to this Coalition government more generally. Let me call this the Shakespearean or the schadenfreude angle. …

Take the whole Cardinal Pell episode. … There wasn’t close to enough evidence ever to think it would suffice to meet a ‘proof beyond reasonable doubt’ threshold, whatever two Victorian Court of Appeal justices might think. In fact, and as our High Court of Australia unanimously implied, there wasn’t even enough evidence to come close to the civil standard of proof on the balance of probabilities. (Namely, was it more likely than not? Well, it was basically virtually impossible and incredibly unlikely.)

Barely a single Coalition MP said a word on Pell’s behalf. And don’t give me the sub judice excuse. The problem in Pell was the lack of a fair investigation and trial, not people commenting on that. And once the jury trial was over no one thinks court of appeal justices would be influenced by anything said. So why not then? And yet I don’t recall the Prime Minister or Mr Porter saying a single thing about how shonky and deficient the Pell prosecution was. …

It’s all part of what seems like an inability by Team Morrison to withstand the social media mob and ABC attacks and to demand basic procedural fairness protections. For everyone! It’s a form of cowardice in a way. And now this Team Morrison is reaping what it helped to sow. It’s being hoist with its own petard.

Paul Kelly:

The rape accusation is now politically weaponised. This is not just about Porter — it is about justice and lawful process in this country. Porter said he would not stand down as Attorney-General over an incident that “did not happen” because in Australia “no one is beyond an allegation”.

Porter stood on a principle. He said if he submits it means any person in Australia “can lose their career, their job, their life’s work” based on an accusation.

ALP leader Anthony Albanese has signalled Labor’s support for more action — and flagged an ­independent inquiry to judge ­Porter. That is a dangerous and unprecedented move.

The Prime Minister will not authorise any such ­inquiry, but told colleagues that if he did Porter would not be the only figure included, an obvious reference to previous allegations against Bill Shorten.

The rape accusation against Porter will now escalate into a ­vicious political and media contest. At stake are core principles, the female vote, competing versions of justice, Morrison’s standing and Porter’s future.

Wednesday was a shameful day in our politics, without parallel for decades, if ever. The most revealing contrast is the ­completely different media treatments of the Porter allegations as opposed to the Shorten allegations from 2014.

Shorten’s accuser, Kathy Sherriff, continues to accuse Bill Shorten of rape in 1986, when she was 16 and Bill Shorten was 19. Shorten denies anything like it ever happened. She continues to provide detailed statements and some supporting evidence. Her complaint was dismissed in 2014 by the Victorian Police, apparently for political reasons because they gave none. Kathy Sherriff never got her day in court.

UPDATE from David Archibald:

The reason why we are having an epidemic of rape allegations regarding politicians is that Albanese is not performing as opposition leader and could be replaced.

The rape allegations are so that the role is not given back to Shorten.

And it goes to Tanya Plibersek.

It is all about the narrative.