WHEN nominations for Liberal-held seats closed on September 10 Christian Porter’s nomination was the only one for the seat of Pearce, according to WA Liberals director Stuart Smith.
Yesterday Mr Porter resigned from the Morrison Government’s ministry but said he had nominated for preselection and had no intention of standing aside from his responsibilities to the people of Pearce.
On September 13 Mr Porter updated the Register of Members’ Interests to say in relation to his now over defamation case against the ABC and journalist Louise Milligan there had been or would soon be a payment towards his fees by a blind trust known as the Legal Services Trust.
Mr Porter said some people had wanted to help him by supporting his defamation case.
“They contributed to a trust on the basis of confidentiality and a belief that their contribution would remain confidential within the rules of disclosure,’’ he said.
“Whilst I have no right of access to the funding or conduct of the trust, on my request the trustee provided me an assurance that none of the contributors were lobbyists or prohibited foreign entities.’’
Mr Porter said he considered he had provided the information required under the Members’ Register of Interests.
“I also considered that the additional disclosures I provided under the Ministerial Standards were in accordance with its additional requirements.’’
Mr Porter’s resignation came before any result of an investigation by the Prime Minister’s department into whether accepting money from the “blind trust” breached the ministerial code of conduct.
Yesterday Prime Minister Scott Morrison said in the discussions that they had had in the past few days Mr Porter had not been able to conclusively rule out a perceived conflict of interest.
Mr Morrison said it was a situation of Mr Porter being the beneficiary of an arrangement that prevented him from being able to disclose to him (Mr Morrison) in a way that would allow the Minister to satisfy that he did not have a conflict of interest or a perceived conflict of interest.
“That’s how, that’s how I’d describe it, and the application of the standards and my understanding of them and our discussion, and he’s acted in accordance with his understanding, as well,’’ he said.
“And there are grey areas in these issues.
“As I said, complex arrangements, when applied to particular circumstances, can be inconclusive.
“But, the Minister has taken the decision, which errs on the side of upholding the highest standard.’’
But federal Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said Mr Porter had not only breached ministerial guidelines but was also in breach of his obligations as a member of Parliament. “He needs to answer where this money came from,’’ he said.
“Members of Parliament, as well as ministers, just can’t accept money from anonymous donors for a private legal matter.”
Mr Porter’s Labor opponent in Pearce the City of Wanneroo Mayor Tracey Roberts has recently faced bullying complaints, which were dismissed on September 14 although revocation motions will be presented at the next Wanneroo council meeting.
But Mr Albanese said Labor had a strong representative in Pearce with Mrs Roberts.
“She’s represented the City of Wanneroo very strongly over recent years,’’ he said.
“She’s running a strong campaign, and I’m very confident that we can win the electorate of Pearce along with other seats in Western Australia.’’
Mr Morrison said he wanted to thank Mr Porter for his service as the Industry, Science and Technology Minister as well as his role as Attorney-General and the role he performed as leader of government business in the House of Representatives also.
Angus Taylor will be the acting Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.
Mr Porter said his greatest privilege had always been to serve the people of Pearce as their representative in the Australian Parliament since 2013 and to be re-elected by them in 2016 and 2019.
He said he had always tried his best to fulfil his role as part of a hard-working team in government and now would work again to secure the return of the Morrison Government whenever the next election was held.
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