Thursday, September 23

Christian Porter will return to work with a full salary of $ 370,000 despite delegating some functions | Australian politics

Federal Attorney General Christian Porter will return to work with his full salary of $ 370,000 a year, despite delegating some of his duties to avoid potential conflicts of interest, the government confirmed.

According to Senate estimates on Monday, Labor investigated what duties Porter would discharge when he returns to work on March 31, ending a period of more than three weeks of mental health leave after he identified himself as the cabinet minister charged with assault. historical sexuality. Porter vigorously denies the accusation.

While on leave, Porter started a defamation case against ABC and reporter Louise Milligan, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated will force him to waive federal court liability and any ABC-related decisions.

As the government seeks the attorney general’s advice to get a more complete picture of Porter’s potential conflicts, Labor has already accused the attorney general of preparing to return on a “full-time salary” to do his part-time job.

On Monday, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham revealed that the government had yet to receive advice from the attorney general.

He accepted questions about whether Porter will be responsible for defamation law reform, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Evidence Act, and legal services for ALS, as this would depend on advice.

When asked if Porter would receive a reduced salary, Birmingham replied: “I do not think there are provisions to vary the salaries of different cabinet ministers in addition to those in other specific positions.”

As the House Government Leader, Porter receives a 75% raise on top of the base pay rate for MPs of $ 211,250, which equates to a total salary of $ 370,000.

Birmingham’s response suggests that Porter will receive the full leader salary from the house wage regardless of his inability to perform certain attorney general duties.

On Sunday, Labor Kristina Keneally criticized the idea that Porter could go back to a “full-time salary but doing part-time work, that parts of her work will be artificially transferred to other people and given the time and space in his full-time salary to fight his defamation case. “

Keneally said it would be “wonderful if women who are victims of domestic violence in this country had access to paid leave when they have to go to court to escape their abusers.”

When asked if Porter would take leave to fight his libel case, Birmingham said he “can’t prejudge that” and that it was “hypothetical.”

“I don’t want to prejudge what the attorney general’s advice will be and what the nature of those responsibilities will be in the future,” he said. “As attorney general and minister of … labor relations, the attorney general has a very large and significant portfolio, with many areas of focus and responsibilities.”

Birmingham said Porter’s defamation case was self-financed and indicated that the government had only sought the attorney general’s advice after Porter launched the action.

Acting Attorney General Michaelia Cash is carrying out all of Porter’s responsibilities until he returns, assisted by Assistant Attorney General Amanda Stoker.

Stoker is already head of the Australian Human Rights Commission and responds to the Respect @ Work report by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

Since his appointment in December, Stoker has press releases issued on reform of bankruptcy law and native titles. A greater delegation of responsibilities from Porter could see him take responsibility for judicial appointments and defamation law reform.

Labor Sen. Tim Ayres also questioned officials from the prime minister’s department and the cabinet about who in Morrison’s office. called Melbourne attorney Peter Bartlett to thank you for representing Porter.

In an email to all staff, then-MinterEllison CEO Annette Kimmitt had criticized the lack of process before Bartlett accepted Porter as a client, sparking a firestorm of controversy that ended with her departure from the company. business.

Ayres noted that MinterEllison was working on $ 93 million worth of government contracts and asked if Porter would refrain from making decisions about whether the company should be informed in the future.

Birmingham realized who had made the call in the prime minister’s office and indicated that the attorney general would consider the second question.

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