PM says Porter is ‘an innocent man’
Christian Porter is "an innocent man under our law" and will not be moved from his portfolio, Scott Morrison says.
The Attorney-General has vigorously denied the allegation he raped a 16-year-old in 1988, with police unable to pursue the matter after the alleged victim took her own life last year.
Despite the unusual circumstances surrounding the case, Mr Morrison has rejected calls for an independent probe.
And he rejected claims it was untenable for Mr Porter to continue as the nation's chief law officer under a cloud, saying moving him from his portfolio would have no legal basis.
"He is an innocent man under our law," Mr Morrison said.
"To suggest there should be some different treatment applied to him, based on what had been allegations that the police have closed the matter on … I think would be grossly inappropriate."
Mr Morrison said reports the Legal Practice Board of WA had referred the allegation was a "matter for them" but said every Australian was entitled to the same treatment under the rule of law.
"That is the fair go you get under our rule of law in this country. And I will not be one to undermine it," he said.
But former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson said an independent probe into the matter would be a "circuit breaker" as Mr Porter was unable to draw a line under the matter.
Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus backed that call on Wednesday, urging Mr Morrison to seek advice from the current solicitor-general.
"I'm very confident (he) will explain to the Prime Minister that his excuses about the rule of law are absurd," he told the ABC.
"I've spoken to very, very many lawyers about this; not one of them thinks that the calling of an independent inquiry is a threat to the rule of law."
He cited a probe into sexual harassment allegations against former High Court justice Dyson Heydon as a model.
"We are talking about two different things: whether or not charges should be laid that was the purpose of the (closed) police inquiry," he said.
"But the inquiry that the Prime Minister should be setting up is the one which inquires into fitness for office."
Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek pointed out on Tuesday the Coalition had pursued historical allegations against former prime minister Julia Gillard via an independent probe.
Originally published as PM says Porter is 'an innocent man'