Does the PM think Christian Porter's resignation will be enough?

Christian Porter arriving at question time. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong
Christian Porter arriving at question time. Picture: Sitthixay Ditthavong

Even though it has barely satisfied detractors, the Morrison government is desperately hoping the Christian Porter blind trust controversy will just blow over.

Consider the timing. Mr Porter's Sunday resignation from Cabinet, no doubt a blow to his own career and to the government, dropped just ahead of the Prime Minister Scott Morrison's high profile trip to Washington.

The PM took the heat in an afternoon press conference and the now former Industry, Science and Technology minister issued a 1600-word statement that was all defiance and half a re-litigation of his discontinued defamation case against the ABC and ABC journalist Louise Milligan for airing historic rape allegations.

No matter how difficult the questions, former Cabinet colleagues are standing up for him saying he has paid the price.

The acting Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, no stranger to controversy, described Mr Porter's actions, thus far, as a "bad day at the wicket" and the declared, "that issue has been dealt with".

"He has gone to the corridor of the nearly dead, where I was for three-and-a-bit years, just above the car park. And he will spend his time in coventry," Mr Joyce said.

Mr Porter, still harbouring political ambition, is pressing on and has vowed to run again in his relatively marginal West Australian seat of Pearce.

But on the issue at hand, that he failed to disclose the donor or donors of $1 million to his legal costs and therefore failed basic standards of disclosure and good governance, Mr Porter has given nothing.

There was no mea culpa in Mr Porter's resignation.


"I consider that I have provided the information required under the Members' Register of Interests," he offered on Sunday.

"I also considered that the additional disclosures I provided under the Ministerial Standards were in accordance with its additional requirements."

And then he gets to it.

"After discussing the matter with the Prime Minister I accept that any uncertainty on this point provides a very unhelpful distraction for the government in its work," he said as he moved to the backbench.

No acknowledgement of the problem for Ministers of accepting money from unknown sources, no move to repay the money and certainly no reference to the need also for backbench MPs to detail the sources of all income.

Christian Porter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Christian Porter and Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Nothing to see here, apparently.

But friends of the now-dead woman known as "Kate", the alleged victim of 33 years ago, are vowing not to let it go. Although they point to the fact that it took financial matters, and not the original allegation, to see action taken over Mr Porter.

The MP again states the original allegation is "not true" and notes the ABC's acceptance that the allegation cannot be "substantiated to the applicable legal standard - criminal or civil."

The opposition and minor parties are vowing to not let it go either. When Federal Parliament resumes in October, Mr Porter will likely face an investigation by the Parliament's Privileges Committee or he could be censured.

This is ultimately an issue for Mr Morrison. It is an issue of leadership and the opposition is running with it. These are Mr Morrison's Ministerial Standards and he has stated that Mr Porter has somehow upheld the standards by resigning.

Is this really the Prime Minister's idea of standards upheld? Are we simply to take Mr Porter at his word that he sought and got assurances from the Trustee that none of the contributors were lobbyists or prohibited foreign entities?

Mr Porter has paid a price, but not "the price." He must be hoping that like Mr Joyce and Bridget McKenzie, time out of the Coalition ministry is not permanent and there is a spot waiting for him in the future.

Will it blow over in a week? Or before the next election? Or just be consumed as Australia continues to battle a one in a lifetime pandemic? Clearly Mr Morrison calculates it will.

But as the Chief of the Army, Lieutenant-General David Morrison said in 2013: "The standard you walk past is the standard you accept." One would hope the other Mr Morrison has similar high standards.