Calls for rape allegation inquiry continue

Some lawyers and politicians want an independent inquiry into the claims against Christian Porter.
Some lawyers and politicians want an independent inquiry into the claims against Christian Porter.

The Morrison government is under pressure to launch an independent inquiry into decades-old rape allegations against Attorney-General Christian Porter.

Mr Porter has emphatically denied claims he sexually assaulted a woman, who is now dead, when the pair were on a debating trip in 1988.

But some lawyers and politicians are adamant a separate probe must investigate the allegations despite police not proceeding because of insufficient evidence.

Michael Bradley, who represented the woman, said Mr Porter was asking for the matter to be resolved purely based on his denial.

"In terms of the integrity of his office and his ability to continue to occupy that high public office, given the gravity of the allegation against him, does that need to be cleared up?" he told the ABC.

He said an inquiry would make a determination based on the balance of probabilities and not require the attorney-general to prove anything.

Mr Porter argued a similar probe into sexual harassment allegations against former High Court judge Dyson Heydon was different because it was a workplace issue.

"I would be asked to disprove something that just didn't happen 33 years ago. So, if that happens, I couldn't succeed to disprove something," he said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who is one of the politicians who received a letter with the allegations last week, said the detailed nature of the claims meant an inquiry was crucial.

"I don't think we want a culture in this country where it is just blame and name. I don't think that is helpful," she told the ABC.

"But we don't need to talk about hypotheticals. What we have here is a very specific allegation. A very serious one."

Senator Hanson-Young said the highest-ranking law officer was accused of a heinous crime, meaning Prime Minister Scott Morrison needed to be satisfied Mr Porter was fit to remain in cabinet.

Liberal MP Tim Wilson questioned the merit of an additional investigation, saying any new evidence should be put to police.

Independent MP Zali Steggall wants the prime minister to task a retired judge or eminent person with conducting an inquiry.

"The difficulty with the police is with the victim being deceased, it puts a very quick end to that investigation," she told the ABC.

Australian Women Lawyers said an urgent inquiry was needed because uncertainty around the allegations was undermining the legal system.

"Until such investigation is conducted, the question remains as to whether the attorney is an appropriately fit and proper person to hold that office," the group said in a statement.

Australian Associated Press