Scott Morrison awaits legal advice for Christian Porter’s return | Ralph Lauren

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Christian Porter could have to relinquish more of his duties when he returns as attorney-general while he sues the ABC for defamation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has proposed to delegate some of Mr Porter’s responsibilities relating to the Federal Court and the ABC while the case is afoot.

The first court hearing is due to take place on May 14.

Mr Morrison has sought independent legal advice to see if there are other parts of the attorney-general’s role he should step back from to prevent a perceived conflict of interest.

“Once that advice is received arrangements will be put in place that is consistent with it at the time of the AG’s return,” the prime minister told parliament on Wednesday.

Mr Porter is seeking aggravated damages over an ABC story that detailed historical rape allegation against a cabinet minister.

His lawyers allege the story – which did not name Mr Porter – was defamatory because it imputed he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988 and that contributed to her taking her own life.

Mr Porter vehemently denies the accusations and identified himself as the subject of the article two weeks ago.

Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Camera IconAttorney-General Christian Porter. Credit: Paul Kane/Getty Images

His lawyer said he was forced to go public after a series of news articles, social media posts and interviews made him easily identifiable to many Australians.

The opposition continues calls for an independent inquiry, which the government rejects.

Labor has also questioned why Mr Morrison sought legal advice from the solicitor-general around Mr Porter’s return to work but not to ensure whether he was a fit and proper person for the job.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young is worried Mr Porter could take part in cabinet discussions relating to ABC funding.

She is also concerned the attorney-general will continue to oversee national consent laws, the establishment of a commonwealth integrity commission and defamation law reform.

Mr Porter is due to return to work after mental health leave on March 31.



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