PM backs inquest into alleged Porter rape
Scott Morrison would "welcome" a coronial inquest into the suicide of Attorney-General Christian Porter's accuser if South Australian authorities proceed and expects he would give evidence if required.
In a potential circuit breaker to days of high drama over the historical rape allegations that date back to 1988, the Prime Minister confirmed on Friday that he remained opposed to a parliamentary inquiry or investigation but that any coronial inquest was a matter for SA authorities.
It follows the woman's parents revealing in a statement to news.com.au that they would support "any inquiry" into the circumstances leading to their daughter's death amid calls for an independent investigation into the historical rape allegation.
"Well, let's be clear. Yesterday, when I responded to this question, I was referring to an inquiry that I was being asked to put in place,'' Mr Morrison said.
"The issue as to whether there is a coronial inquiry in South Australia is entirely a matter for the South Australian Coroner.
"And if they chose to go ahead with that, of course, I would welcome that.
"But it would be highly inappropriate for me as Prime Minister, or any other politician, to interfere or intervene in a decision that a coroner should properly make about those issues."
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The Prime Minister was then asked, if they did hold a coroner's inquest in South Australia, whether the Attorney-General should be given the opportunity to give sworn evidence.
"Well, the coronial inquiry would be into the rather terrible events with the death by suicide of the woman at the centre of this,'' he said.
"And if the coroner sought that, then I have no doubt that the Attorney-General would co-operate with any coronial process."
Mr Porter has vehemently and repeatedly denied the woman's claims.
The Prime Minister said the "rule of law" and not "the mob" must be upheld.
Sceptics of the Adelaide woman's claims have raised several points canvassed in a letter to the Prime Minister penned by "friends" of the woman.
They include claims her parents were worried and whether she went dancing at the Hard Rock cafe of another venue.
An anonymous letter sent to the PM by "friends" of the woman states that her parents were worried about the impact of a police complaint on her mental health and her relationship with them was complex.
"They worried that she may have confected or embellished the allegations due to her mental illness,'' it states.
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But friends of the woman disagreed insisting she was articulate, lucid and clear about her memories and her intentions.
"She was lucid, calm, rational, attentive, forensic," a friend Rick Kalowski told the Sydney Morning Herald of his trip with her after she first spoke to NSW police.
"In no way was she delusional or away with the fairies."
"We are not out for blood or to destroy anyone, we are simply out to seek justice for [our friend] as best as can be achieved in circumstances where she is no longer alive."
Earlier, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said an independent investigation into the allegations was a bad idea.
"SA will make a decision in relation to their own coronial inquiry and that's as it should be so I think that's the appropriate way in which this is dealt with,'' he said.
NSW Police have revealed that the woman who alleged she was raped by Attorney-General Christian Porter more than 30 years ago contacted them the day before her death saying she didn't want to proceed with a sexual assault claim because of medical and personal reasons.
She then cut her hair in the short style she had as a teenager at the time of the alleged incident and died by suicide the next day.
According to a police statement released on Thursday, the woman advised them on February 27 last year that she had a number of health issues and "dissociates".
NSW police did not question Mr Porter over the rape allegation because the alleged victim had not provided a formal statement before she died.
"The family of the deceased continue to experience considerable grief arising from their loss," said a spokeswoman for the family. "They are supportive of any inquiry which would potentially shed light on the circumstances surrounding the deceased's passing. They ask that their privacy be respected during this difficult time."
Several media outlets reported on Thursday that government sources said the ABC's "pursuit" of the alleged victim to tell her story "would be firmly in the spotlight" in any coronial inquest.
The Prime Minister also welcomed Defence Minister Linda Reynolds' apology for calling alleged rape victim Brittany Higgins a lying cow.
"I think she understood from my comments yesterday and my discussions yesterday that I did not support those comments in any way, shape or form. And I'm pleased that she's taken her decision to apologise,'' he said.
"They weren't public statements, of course. These were comments made not in a public space. She was not talking about the allegations of sexual assault, no, she wasn't talking about that."
The Prime Minister was also asked if Senator Reynolds would be fired for making similar comments in the private sector.
"Well, you must have worked in a lot of different places to me in the private sector,'' the PM said.
"I can only reflect on some of the things I hear about media rooms and the way they talk about people in those places. And if that were the case, you'd have to clear the whole place, I suspect. The minister deeply regrets saying these things and has offered an apology, as she should."
Originally published as PM backs inquest into alleged Porter rape