Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces a growing chorus of calls to take further action over the rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter.
Lawyers for the family of the deceased woman who alleged Porter raped her in 1988, released a statement on Thursday, indicating their support for an inquiry into her death.
“They are supportive of any inquiry which would potentially shed light on the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s passing,” the statement reads.
It has been reported today by the Sydney Morning Herald that long-time friends of the woman continue to stand by the account of what she said happened to her at a school debating event over 30 years ago. These friends, who knew both the woman and Porter from debating, have called for an independent inquiry into the allegations.
Writer Nick Ryan said on Perth radio: “an independent inquiry, the likes of which have been conducted before and can easily be conducted again, is all we’re asking for”.
To date, Morrison has rejected any calls for an independent investigation, saying “that would say that our rule of law and our police are not competent to deal with these issues”.
“There is not some other process. There is not the mob process. There is not the tribe-has-spoken process. That’s not how we run the rule of law in Australia.”
On Wednesday, Porter categorically denied the women’s allegation of rape, saying he only knew her for a brief time at debating competitions as a teenager.
Both Scott Morrison and Christian Porter say they have not read the document containing a written account of the allegation from the woman. NSW Police have said there is “insufficient admissible evidence” to continue a police investigation into the allegation against Porter.
Meanwhile, South Australian state coroner David Whittle has said the investigation into the woman’s death is incomplete and that he has not ruled out an inquest into the her death.
Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers have all called on Morrison to instigate an independent investigation. Opposition leader Anthony Albanese said a “full and proper” inquiry was vital and this cannot be the end of the matter.
“It’s time for the Prime Minister to give both himself and Australians confidence that Mr Porter is a fit and proper person to hold the office of Attorney-General,” he said.
Independent MP Zali Steggall also said an independent investigation was needed.
“We know the police investigation was hamstrung by the unfortunate circumstances in relation to the complainant,” she said. “So the reality is this hasn’t really been investigated. And I think the public deserve to know.”
Adam Bandt, leader of the Greens, said: “Courts decide innocence & guilt, but the PM decides who’s in cabinet running the country.”
On Friday morning, Natasha Stott Despoja told ABC radio the government had “demonstrably failed” in its response so far.
“I don’t see how you can avoid an independent inquiry now,” she said.
“I don’t sense any empathy from the powers that be, and I certainly think a lot of victims today and a lot of survivors really need solidarity and support.
“I think there’s an issue about how we treat the stories of women and victims and survivors, and this government has demonstrably failed.”