Grace Tame slams Prime Minister Scott Morrison's decision to temporarily elevate Christian Porter

Australian of the Year Grace Tame has strongly criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to temporarily promote Christian Porter.

Mr Porter is filling in as leader of the House of Representatives while fellow Coalition MP Peter Dutton is in mandatory Covid-19 quarantine at home in Queensland.

Mr Porter, the Industry Minister and former Attorney-General, is the subject of historic rape allegations, which he strenuously denies.

Ms Tame, an advocate for survivors of abuse, said his new appointment was “a slap in the face” that called into question the morality of the country’s leadership.

The Tasmanian was groomed from the age of 15 and repeatedly sexually assaulted by her high school teacher, then successfully fought to overturn laws that prevented her from speaking out.

Speaking on ABC 7.30 on Wednesday night, Ms Tame said the government was not paying attention to the “current climate”, with the issue of sexual assault now at “the forefront of national conversation”.

“[Mr Porter’s appointment] sends a message of skewed priorities,” she told host Laura Tingle.

“Where our focus is disproportionately on the rehabilitation or the path to rehabilitation for the image and standing of the accused, and even in some cases convicted predators over survivor support.”

Grace Tame slams Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to temporarily elevate Christian Porter

Camera IconIndustry Minister Christian Porter is the subject of historic rape allegations, which he strenuously denies. NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman Credit: News Corp Australia

Mr Porter has never been charged with any crime relating to, nor been found guilty of, the allegations that he raped a debating colleague when they were both teenage students.

The woman who made the historic allegation to police withdrew it before her death last year.

Mr Porter sued the ABC over publishing the allegation, but he and the national broadcaster reached a settlement after mediation.

He had been leader of the house, overseeing the government’s agenda during parliamentary sitting weeks, for two years until a cabinet reshuffle in March.

Grace Tame slams Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to temporarily elevate Christian Porter

Camera IconGrace Tame has strongly criticised Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s decision to temporarily promote Christian Porter. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Ms Tingle asked Ms Tame what she would say to those who say Mr Porter has not been convicted or charged with anything and that the government is entitled to put him in a job.

Ms Tame said she too believed in the presumption of innocence.

“The law is the bare minimum standard. One can be a law-abiding citizen and also hold outmoded views and behaviour according to those outmoded views,” she said.

“This role in particular is embedded with the power to stop debate and the power to enforce silence, the power to suppress the truth which is chillingly ironic I think.”

Ms Tame said her recent meeting with the federal government had been productive, but she questioned why the prime minister had “used his discretion” to appoint Mr Porter to the job.

“Actions speak louder than words,” she said.

“I will continue to act in good faith. Ultimately, I don’t want to be criticising anybody if I don’t have to. I am a firm believer in reparation as a priority.”

Ms Tame’s interview followed an earlier appearance on Channel 10’s The Project and the publication of a withering piece she wrote for The Age and Sydney Morning Herald, in which she called for an inquiry into the rape allegation involving Mr Porter.

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