Morrison holds firm on rape claims inquiry

Matt CoughlanAAP
Christian Porter denies allegations he raped a woman in 1988 when he was 17 and she was 16.
Camera IconChristian Porter denies allegations he raped a woman in 1988 when he was 17 and she was 16.

Scott Morrison has rejected intensifying pressure for an inquiry into rape allegations against the attorney-general despite the issue threatening to linger indefinitely.

Christian Porter emphatically denies the alleged 1988 incident ever happened, while the woman who made the accusation took her own life last year.

The prime minister said NSW Police closing an investigation because of a lack of admissible evidence meant the issue was concluded.

"We should be able to move on from that," Mr Morrison told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

"There is no alternative process. There is no alternative rule of law that should apply to one Australian and not to another."

The woman's supporters and Labor are refusing to let the allegations go, saying an independent inquiry is the only way to find a resolution.

Mr Morrison denied his government needed a circuit breaker.

"I don't accept this proposition that any Australian should be subject to a rule of law that is different to anyone else," he said.

"There is the presumption of innocence and I believe in the presumption of innocence."

The woman's family is supportive of any inquiry that would shed light on the circumstances of her death.

She died one day after telling police she did not want to proceed with the complaint for medical and personal reasons.

Mr Morrison said he would welcome a coronial inquest into her death.

"The coronial inquiry would be into the rather terrible events with the death by suicide of the woman at the centre of this," he said.

"If the coroner sought that, then I have no doubt that the attorney-general would cooperate with any coronial process."

The South Australian coroner has requested more information from the state's police but the future of a potential inquest is undetermined.

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the attorney-general's position as first law officer meant an independent inquiry was crucial.

"The fact that questions will continue to be asked is one of the reasons why there should be an inquiry," he told reporters in Perth.

"He is a cabinet minister and Scott Morrison needs to assure himself, but also the Australian people, that he is a fit and proper person to hold that role."

Natasha Stott Despoja, who is the chair of domestic violence prevention group Our Watch, said the government's response angered her.

"I don't see how you can avoid an independent inquiry now," she told ABC radio.

Independent senator Jacqui Lambie's preference is for a coronial inquest but she would also support an independent inquiry.

Mr Porter, who has the support of Mr Morrison, is on two weeks' leave but insists he won't quit cabinet.

The government has been under intense pressure for weeks after former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins alleged she was raped by a colleague at Parliament House.

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins will lead a review of the workplace culture in federal politics in response to the claims.

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