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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Christian Porter has unequivocally denied the historic rape allegations levelled against him, and says he is determined to stay in his job as attorney-general.

Both Scott Morrison and Porter are adamant the “rule of law” in this country places the attorney-general beyond prosecution, now that the NSW police have closed the case.

Porter is the country’s first law officer and many argue that requires a stiffer test of suitability.

This week UNSW professor of law Fleur Johns joins the podcast, to discuss the legal role of the attorney-general, how allegations of this kind can affect the performance of his duties, and the validity of the “rule of law” argument.

The role of the office of the attorney-general is both one of “actual powers” and “a repository of great symbolic power,” Johns says.

This symbolic power is compromised by “serious allegations that go to the ability of a person to exercise power over another person in a way that is responsible.”

“Allegations that are made of a serious abuse of power having been conducted could erode…public trust, especially when those allegations have not had an opportunity to be tested, as is the case here.”

Johns “wholeheartedly” rejects the view an independent inquiry into the rape allegations would compromise the rule of law.

“It’s absolutely par for the course that the rule of law is delivered through a range of different procedural mechanisms.”

“The testing of these allegations…with the appropriate protections to ensure the rule of law, would actually be a way of ensuring that that ideal of the rule of law is defended and promoted.

”[It would show] that we do experience a sense of being governed by laws and legal processes and legal institutions, rather than by particular men and women who happen to be in power at any one time.“

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Additional audio

A List of Ways to Die, Lee Rosevere, from Free Music Archive.

ref. Politics with Michelle Grattan: Fleur Johns on the rule of law –