The PM is deluded if he thinks this scandal ends with Porter’s resignation from Cabinet. Is he off to the backbench or is there a more junior portfolio in the wings? One way or another, he is a lot less likely to hold his seat of Pearce.
Quote us: Christian Porter would rather lose his job as Industry Minister than confess as to who the money came from and how much. Nevertheless, it’s still a donation and the AEC will require donor names.
When is a donation not a donation?
Well not, if you believe the former attorney-general – the First Law Officer of the nation – when it comes to funding his defamation case against the ABC.
It is plainly ridiculous for Porter to claim that he has no knowledge of who the donor is or how much was donated.
It is illegal under Commonwealth electoral law for an elected member of parliament to not disclose the name and address of the donor, the date of the donation, and the sum donated if it is more than $14,500 in any one year. How the money is used is irrelevant. The penalty for flouting this law is up to three times the amount donated.
It seems likely that the former attorney-general is relying on the law (for which he was responsible) that annual disclosure returns are only made public once a year – from the first working day in February (the case was in March) or 24 weeks after polling day if an election is called before February next year. Some transparency!
He either doesn’t know the law (unlikely) or thinks he can get away with non-compliance because he says it’s a ‘blind trust’. He couldn’t be more wrong. A blind trust is just an investment fund that withholds information from the owner of the money about which companies the money is invested in.
Some say the defamation claim made immediately after the rally at which Grace Tame said evil thrives in silence was intended to silence the debate about the accusation made. In the trial he insisted his defence should be kept confidential, he crowed victorious in the final settlement whilst extracting practically nothing from the ABC.
The AEC says
The Commonwealth funding and disclosure scheme (the disclosure scheme) detailed under Part XX of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (Electoral Act) was introduced to increase overall transparency and inform the public about the financial dealings of political parties, candidates and others involved in the electoral process.
We don‘t think so.
Time to reform these electoral laws so they are, actually, transparent and timely.