The Prime Minister has sought legal advice on Christian Porter remaining in his role after the Attorney-General launched a defamation case.
Scott Morrison has received advice from the Solicitor General over Christian Porter’s fitness for office and will be making “further decisions” on the matter.
Mr Porter has launched a defamation action against the ABC and its journalist Louise Milligan, who aired an allegation he raped a 16-year old in 1988, which he denied.
The Prime Minister confirmed last week that Mr Porter would not perform roles relating to the ABC or the Federal Court while the matter was being heard.
And he revealed on Tuesday that he had been seeking advice from Solicitor-General Stephen Donoghue QC over whether there were any legal questions over Mr Porter remaining in his role.
“I have received that advice and am now taking advice through the department about how that sits with ministerial standards,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
“I will be making further decisions on that matter, (and) I will alert you to those when they are made.”
Mr Morrison had previously only sought advice from his department, having declared Mr Porter an “an innocent man under our law” and insisting he would not be removed as Attorney-General.
Less than two weeks ago, he rejected suggestions he would ask Mr Donoghue to look into the matter.
“That’s not the advice that I’ve received from my department, as I’ve dealt with that issue,” he said.
In February, a historical rape allegation levelled at a senior cabinet minister, since revealed to be Mr Porter, was made public by the ABC after details of the alleged crime were sent to the Prime Minister.
Mr Porter has been on paid mental health leave since outing himself as the minister at the centre of the allegation.
He claimed the ABC and Milligan had subjected him to a “trial by media” and, despite not naming him, ensured it was inevitable he would be identified.
They will be defended by former solicitor-general Justin Gleeson.
NSW Police were unable to continue with an investigation after the alleged victim took her own life in 2020, a day after informing police she no longer wanted to pursue the matter.
The SA coroner has ordered a probe into the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death, but the government has resisted calls for an independent probe into her allegation.