A Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources employee made a complaint about former attorney-general Christian Porter after he took on the role of industry, science and technology minister earlier this year.
During senate budget estimates on Thursday, Labor senator Murray Watt asked department officials whether any staff had ‘expressed discomfort or an unwillingness’ to meet with Porter since he was appointed to his new role in March.
Deputy secretary Luise McCulloch confirmed that a departmental officer had made a complaint.
“We’re aware of one complaint, one issue, which we dealt with through our normal workplace safety policies and support for staff,” she said.
“It was one issue raised by one person in relation to dealing with the minister.”
— Senator Murray Watt (@MurrayWatt) June 3, 2021
McCulloch did not reveal the public servant’s reason for raising the issue, when the complaint was made, or the gender of the employee, due to confidentiality concerns.
According to NCA NewsWire, department chief operating officer Kylie Bryant told the hearing that Porter’s chief of staff was made aware of the complaint, which has since been resolved.
In early March, Porter identified himself as the cabinet minister at the centre of historical rape allegations. He denied the allegation that he raped a now deceased woman in Sydney in 1988, when she was 16.
Porter was appointed to lead the industry, science, technology portfolio during a cabinet reshuffle later that month, with Michaelia Cash named as his replacement.
The minister recently dropped his defamation case against the ABC, which first published the article about the unnamed cabinet minister accused of an historical alleged sexual assault.
ABC managing director David Anderson is likely to appear before the senate soon, and will be asked why the public broadcaster agreed to a settlement with Porter.