A letter to the Prime Minister from the ACT Legislative Assembly Greens

By ACT Legislative Assembly

Monday March 8, 2021

ACT Legislative Assembly Letter to the Prime Minister
The most recent ACT State of the Service report is out.  (Image: ACT Legislative Assembly)

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing with regard to the announcement by your attorney-general, Christian Porter, that he is the cabinet minister at the centre of rape allegations.

As the leader of the Australian government you have a responsibility to set the standards for your ministers and other members of your government. Those standards send a strong message to the country about the honesty and integrity of your government and, importantly, how it treats others. Your response to the allegations against Attorney-General Porter have raised serious concerns about the standard of behaviour that you accept from your cabinet. When these recent events are combined with other allegations coming from Parliament House it is reasonable for the public to have a lack of confidence in the ethics of their elected representatives.

Elected representatives must set a higher standard.

We consider it is critical that there be an independent investigation of the allegations against minister Porter. This matter cannot be simply brushed off with you saying you accept the word of the accused. It requires an independent assessment of the information available, so that whatever the outcome of that inquiry, the matter has been taken seriously, and the community can have confidence that when victims do speak up, they will be treated with respect, and above all, ministers of the Crown will demonstrate the highest levels of accountability. You have openly stated that you have not read the details of this case and appear to disregard the real and terrible impact on both the direct victim and other survivors of sexual assault. These events are highly distressing, most of all for women who are survivors of sexual assault. While it is distressing to learn of more alleged sexual assaults it is vitally important that survivors are encouraged and supported to seek justice.

We share your commitment to the rule of law. We also submit that there are times, particularly when it comes to allegations of sexual assault, the criminal justice system does not deliver justice — to survivors or to alleged perpetrators. It is common practice that workplaces and professions have established complementary processes that enable an investigation of the evidence, deliver natural justice to all parties and enable confidence to be restored. The High Court of Australia has set a standard for such independent investigations, recognising that the highest legal offices of our country must be fully accountable and demonstrate that no office bearer is above scrutiny. This is why it is incumbent on you, as Prime Minister, to instigate an independent investigation and for minister Porter to stand aside while it is completed.

As the prime minister you should not be seeking to manage this as a political issue, but rather acknowledge that this is an opportunity to set a new standard in public and private behaviours and to progress the changes we need in all areas of our society. Your responsibility is to the nation, and without a clear and principled stand on this issue you will fail to lead us to change. We urge you to undertake an investigation and send a strong message to our community.

Yours sincerely,

Shane Rattenbury MLA

ACT Greens Leader

Member for Kurrajong


Rebecca Vassarotti MLA

Member for Kurrajong


Emma Davidson MLA

Member for Murrumbidgee


Jo Clay MLA

Member for Ginninderra


Andrew Braddock MLA

Member for Yerrabi


Jonathan Davis MLA

Member for Brindabella


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