Sunday Herald Sun


Porter pursuit is little more than a vendetta


THIS hasn’t been a great week for the reputation of our political class, with a minister anonymousl­y accused of rape and more argy-bargy over another minister’s handling of an alleged rape in her office.

But it’s been an even worse week for the rule of law and the fundamenta­l principle of justice that an accused is innocent until proven guilty.

Because NSW Police has said that the alleged victim in the claims against Attorney-General Christian Porter did not want to proceed and that there is no admissible evidence on which a conviction could be secured; and because the South Australian coronial inquiry could only look at the circumstan­ces of the alleged victim’s death last year — not at what might have happened 33 years ago — Labor now wants another inquiry into whether Porter is a fit and proper person to hold his senior government post.

Given the lack of admissible evidence, it’s hard to see how Porter’s appearance could be anything other than a name-blackening exercise. If there is no admissible evidence on which to secure a conviction, Porter is innocent. Simple as that.

And requiring him to prove that he’s innocent of a troubled person’s claim against him from many years earlier — simply because he’s a conservati­ve minister in a centre Right government — would be a monstrous perversion of the principle that everyone is equal before the law.

It’s impossible to miss the Labor Party’s double standards here.

In 2014, the then opposition leader Bill Shorten faced a similar claim of rape. The Prime Minister at the time, Tony Abbott, made it very clear to colleagues and staff that he would not tolerate the Shorten investigat­ion being politicise­d.

The media kept away from it too, and when the matter was not proceeded with by police because of the lack of admissible evidence, Labor insisted, “that was that”.

Even Malcolm Turnbull, the man now most insistent that Porter must go, then communicat­ions minister, dripped with sympathy.

Porter’s problem is that between then and now, he refused Turnbull’s demand as PM to advise the governor-general that a leadership rival (Peter Dutton) was ineligible to sit in the parliament by way of section 44. And the rest is history.

But if the behaviour of the government’s habitual critics has been unworthy, even contemptib­le, sections of the media — who circled Porter like hungry sharks this week — have been just as bad, circulatin­g “anonymous” documents and arguing for an extra judicial course of action that they never sought in the Shorten case.

Then there’s the extraordin­ary spectacle of the chief executive of law firm MinterElli­son, Annette Kimmett, advising 2500 staff by email that Porter’s engagement of the firm to advise on potential defamation had “triggered hurt” in her, so she apologised to staff for any “pain” they might have felt.

Alongside the right to a presumptio­n of innocence is another fundamenta­l principle of justice is that everyone is entitled to a defence.

Yet here’s the head of one of our biggest legal firms saying that lawyers needn’t act for people they don’t like or in circumstan­ces they find distastefu­l.

Presumably, if she had her way, no one accused of a sexual offence could be represente­d by her firm; or is it just Porter’s politics she’s against?

The number of people who should know better, nonetheles­s ready to assume the worst and convict Porter on the basis of a mere claim, is a sign of just how deranged so much has become.

At least the MinterElli­son partners seem to understand the enormity of what their non-lawyer chief executive has done and have launched a review. But how did it ever get to this in the first place; how could someone in charge of a leading law firm fail to have even a basic appreciati­on of the principles of natural justice?

I’ve heard commentato­rs claim this is a women’s issue. But that’s as simplistic as those who argue women vote according to gender and they don’t; any basic analysis of candidates and election outcomes shows that.

Women care as much about justice as men do. And while women understand the failure of sexual abuse victims to be heard in the past, we are also the mothers, sisters, daughters, wives and friends of good men and because of that, we refuse to allow the rule of law to be diminished because that, in the end, diminishes us all.

Bhas revealed his crippling gambling addiction saw him hock one of his most prized medals from his headline grabbing AFL career because he wanted to bet.

Great intrigue surrounded the appearance of Fevola’s 2009 Coleman Medal, which he won as the AFL’s leading goalkicker of that season, for sale on ebay in April 2012.

Fevola denied via a statement to the Herald Sun at the time that he was the seller of the treasured item and police were reportedly considerin­g investigat­ing a possible theft.

Two other of Fevola’s awards, his 2008 and 2009 All Australian trophies, were listed for sale at the same time. Little fuss was made about those awards being on the market but the medal’s route to ebay appeared to be a mystery.

It was an intriguing chapter in Fevola’s colourful career that was never solved — until now.

Fevola casually revealed on FOX FM’s Fifi, Fev and Nick show this week that he had sold his medal to feed his then vicious gambling habit.

“I sold my Coleman, that was mine,” he told the show. “I did that. Mate, I wanted to punt so I sold it for cash. “Bought it back though.” While not elaboratin­g on the timing of his sale of the medal it appears to have taken place sometime around 2010 and 2011. The medal was not in Fevola’s possession when it was listed for sale on ebay. At some point Fevola bought it back.

Fevola did not want to comment further on the mystery of the medal on Friday. The former Carlton star has spoken openly in recent years of his gambling addiction and the destructio­n it caused to his life.

In 2010 his troubles became public and in early 2011 he sought help for his gambling and other issues.

In 2017 Fevola recalled his biggest loss on the punt was when he won $365,000 in a day and then lost it all as well as a further $20,000 within a weekend.

Even now after rebuilding his life and forging a lucrative new career in radio, Fevola has nothing to his name.

“I have nothing man, I got nothing in my name,” he told FOX FM. “Everything is in (his ex-wife now fiance) ALEX’S name.”

AttorneyGe­neral Christian Porter faces the media this week. Picture: AFP
PETA CREDLIN CHANNELS 103 & 600 WEEKNIGHTS, 6PM AttorneyGe­neral Christian Porter faces the media this week. Picture: AFP
 ??  ?? Brendan Fevola’s Coleman Medal and (inset) the Herald Sun on April 5, 2012.
Brendan Fevola’s Coleman Medal and (inset) the Herald Sun on April 5, 2012.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia