Know Your Enemy; Who Is Christian Porter (Updated)

UPDATED 17/09/2015

FAMILY BACKGROUND

Charles Christian Porter BA (Hons) BEc, LLB UWA, MSc(Dist) LSE was born 11 July 1970 with an impressive Liberal ancestry!

His grandfather, Charles Porter, was the Secretary/Director of the Queensland Peoples Party when Robert Menzies approached then leader Bruce Pie to join his new Liberal Party. Later he locked horns with Joh Bjelke-Petersen as a Queensland Liberal MP in the 1970s.

Gold medallist Charles Dumas, silver medallist Chilla Porter and bronze medallist Ivor Kashkaro

Gold medallist Charles Dumas, silver medallist Chilla Porter and bronze medallist Ivor Kashkaro

His father is Charles “Chilla” Porter, Silver Medallist at the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games. He also collected silver medals in the 1958 Commonwealth Games and the 1962 Commonwealth Games He is a former state Liberal Party director and fundraiser closely associated with Noel Crichton-Browne. His mother is Nerida nee Chayter.[6] , [16]

EDUCATION

Christian Porter was educated at Wembley Downs Primary School and Hale School, Perth, Class of 87 and was remembered as a reasonable student and a decent debater.

Hale again competed with strength in the West Australia Debating League, with many fine performances displayed. Christian Porter, Mark Mallabone and Nick McKenna were a formidable combination” [15]

porterschool3It seems his nickname at Hale School was “Politics”.

His school achievements were recorded as; PORTER, C.C. (1983-1987) Buntine House Captain, School Prefect, 2nd XI Cricket, 2nd XVIII Football, School Drama (Symbols 1986-1987, Colours), School Debating (Symbols 1983-1987, Colours, Honours), State Debating Team (1986-1987), Australian Debating
Team (1986-1987), Rottnest Reafforestation, Cygnet Committee, Public Speaking (1986-1987) [15]

In 1987 he was Captain of the 3rd placed W.A. debating team, and was again selected in the Australian team, to compete in the 1988 World Intervarsity competition (involving Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and Yale Universities among 157 competing teams) this time as Captain. [15]

Porter holds a Bachelor of Economics, a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Political Science and a Graduate Law Degree from the University of Western Australia. He also studied at the prestigious London School of Economics under a British Chevening Scholarship from the United Kingdom Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Christian topped his class in a Masters Degree in Political Theory. [2]

BEFORE POLITICS

After achieving a masters in political theory from London School of Economics, Mr Porter joined law firm Clayton Utz, where Federal Deputy Opposition Leader Julie Bishop was then a partner. [16]

The WA Parliamentary Historical Data base says this of Porter’s employment

Policy officer State Government Minister’s Office November 1994–December 1995
Policy officer Department of Premier and Cabinet, Policy Coordination Unit December 1995–December 1996
Commercial litigation solicitor, Clayton and Utz December 1996–October 1999
Law Enforcement Adviser Commonwealth Government February 2001–January 2002
Senior State Prosecutor, Office of Director of Public Prosecutions for WA April 2002–March 2006 and November 2007–February 2008
Policy Fellow Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA March 2006–February 2007
Senior lecturer University of Western Australia Law School from February 2007 (part time at Edith Cowan University 2006) [17]

As can be seen, Porter worked predominantly in Law, starting as a commercial litigator before moving to public practice. He spent a year as an advisor to the Federal Minister for Justice and then began working for the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions as a Senior State Prosecutor. Before his election in 2008, Porter was working as a lecturer at the University of Western Australia as well as retaining, part-time, his position as senior prosecutor at the DPP.

PRIVATE LIFE

Lucy Gunn

Lucy Gunn

He wed Lucy Gunn, ( daughter of Wayne and Gloria Negus) now acting deputy director-general of the Department of Indigenous Affairs, in the mid-2000s but the marriage did not last.

He met his current wife Jennifer when she was a clerk working for Mr Porter in the criminal property confiscation team at the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions. She was at his side as he faced media yesterday. ” [16], [17]

Perth’s Sunday Times had a feature on the Porter pairing in May, 2011.

Treasurer and Attorney-General Christian Porter with wife Jennifer Porter, State Prosecutor for Director of Public Prosecutions. Picture credit: Karin Calvert

Treasurer and Attorney-General Christian Porter with wife Jennifer Porter, State Prosecutor for Director of Public Prosecutions. Picture credit: Karin Calvert

Quoting Jennifer Porter, “We got married in July 2008 after a short engagement. Neither of us wanted a big wedding and the best way to keep it simple was to restrict the time for planning. . . . . Intellectually, Christian has an enormous capacity for dealing with information and using it in a meaningful way. But that’s not much good without a moral core and Christian has a strong sense of civility and justice. I think the combination of intellect and integrity are his greatest strengths. People probably know that Christian’s done five university degrees. Something a little less well known is that he is a sci-fi fan – Star Wars, Star Trek, Terminator, Battlestar Galactica, are all much loved in our household. I don’t know how, but he also keeps up with the pop-music charts. Christian’s biggest weakness is definitely his driving, but having grown up with older brothers and spending a bit of time around racing cars, I accept I probably have unfair expectations. And sometimes he can be impatient.” [7]

He is also an enthusiastic amateur runner. Understandable as his father represented Australia in the High Jump at both Olympic and Commonwealth level, winning silver medals.

VexNews.com reported in June 2012, just after his resignation from the WA Front Bench that “Personal rumours about the Treasurer/Attorney’s supposedly mid-life crisis related behaviour have also done the rounds last night, with fevered speculation on his personal situation perhaps informed by his past record of ditching the first wife, Lucy – in the style of Don Draper – for the secretary, Jennifer, after a wild three-day wine-swilling bed-creaking weekend at Margaret River that came to the attention of first wife. Not good. But that was then, and this is now and there’s nothing to the new speculation, Liberal insiders say.[8]

Unconfirmed but reported for what it is. I wonder if he drives a red car – –

Vex News also included the information that “Porter has always been seen as a very dry, socially conservative type, although has been seen frequenting Perth bars with uber-wet Winthrop Professor and star of Sky News small-screen Peter van Onselen, who has his own Tory political aspirations, some say.[8]

He concluded his maiden speech in the House of Representatives by mentioning his wife and, at the same time, hinted at some of the things which are important in his private life. “ Finally, to my wife—I am perhaps a bit slow to give my wife public compliments but, as Ray Charles said, ‘Wake up, boy, because a girl like that ain’t going to wait all night.’ So here is my compliment to my wife. Jennifer, if I were told that it were within my power to go back to the 1970s to watch Dennis Lillee bowl again at the WACA, that I could take all my friends, that Sir Isaiah Berlin and Han Solo would be special guests and that James Reyne would do an acoustic set during the lunch break, but that the one catch was that you could not attend with me, then I would not bother, and you and I could go to the Yanchep Beach lagoon with the dog. So my compliment is: Jennifer, all the good things are nothing special without you.” [9]

Sitting in the Gallery Jennifer, reportedly, was in tears at the end. Later, at dinner, she presented him with an inscribed compass, to help steer him home, now that he has arrived on the big stage, far from the west. [4]

The WA Parliamentary Historical Data base says this of Porter’s Interests;

  • As UWA student edited UWA Law Review 1986 (? Ed)
  • Active debater for many years, coach State debating team 1992 and won Sorinson Trophy as best debater in Australasia;
  • in 1997 ranked one of the Top 5 debaters in the world
  • Publicity officer and camp director University Camp for Kids (UWA)
  • Marathon runner [17]

The WACA

On the 16th Jan, 2015 the Western Australian Cricket Association reported; “The Western Australian Cricket Association advises that the Honourable Christian Porter MP has resigned from his position on the WACA Board, effectively immediately. Mr Porter’s resignation follows his recent promotion from the backbench to Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister. Requirements of the statement of Ministerial Standards place strong limits on any ongoing position, even voluntary positions, which could give rise to possible perceptions of conflicts of interest at any future point. These circumstances led to Mr Porter’s resignation from the WACA Board.

Mr Porter held the two-year termed position of Member Appointed by the Board since his nomination in January 2014 and brought considerable expertise to the Association, both through his previous experience in law and extensive and ongoing work in government. Mr Porter was additionally a member of the Future Development Strategy Committee (FDSC), which has been charged with establishing options for providing viable facilities that will underpin cricket’s future in Western Australia.

WACA President Mr Dennis Lillee said of Mr Porter’s resignation: “Christian became involved with the WACA Board because of his great love of the game and it was a natural appointment to have his presence on the Board. [14]

ENTRY INTO POLITICS

Now the Federal Member for Pearce, he was the Liberal member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly representing the electorate of Bateman. He entered Parliament after winning the seat of Murdoch in a by-election in 2008 following the death of the sitting member, Trevor Sprigg. (An old classmate of mine at Kent St High School. Ed). Porter was immediately appointed as Shadow Attorney General. On 14 December 2010, Porter was sworn in as Treasurer of Western Australia. He retained the portfolio of Attorney General which he had assumed following the “Royalties for Regions” coalition with the Nationals in 2008. [1]

Here are a couple of samples of his work;

this one with respect to the WA budget in 2012

And a bit of a compendium on sex offenders and other matters.

Vex News in its report on June 2012 included the information that “The most able Western Australian minister’s sudden decision to quit and contest a federal preselection ought be the stuff of high-fiving Liberal celebration. But Christian Porter’s risky decision has caused great displeasure in Liberal circles with a real risk the bright-spark’s political career could implode. Some Liberals fear it could destabilise the government less than a year before the next state election.

Meanwhile, no doubt in response to the shock news of his Club Fed plot broken by a chipper young ABCista, unpleasant rumours circle the high-flying WA Treasurer and Attorney-General. Word from state Parliament House has been that the impatiently ambitious senior minister has – as recently as this month – confronted Premier Colin Barnett and demanded a transitional leadership arrangement, described by some in the trade as “a Kirribilli” in honour of the deal between Hawke and Keating that Hawke famously reneged on, as you do.porter4

Porter apparently suggested Barnett depart half-way through the next term after next March’s state election where the Liberals are expected to win in a landslide. The sixty-two year-old Premier was having none of it, like many a Baby Boomer, hoping to push the retirement-age well past sixty-five.

The high-flying pushy young minister has told friends that he has been doing much of the heavy lifting in the state government and is even rumoured to have told Barnett “you can’t govern without me.” Cemeteries are full of the graves of indispensable people, Barnett could have responded, had he been familiar with the works of De Gaulle, a seemingly unlikely prospect. Liberal sources say Porter told Barnett he would leave, if no arrangement was made. He’s been as good as his threat, it now appears. [8]

Yahoo News had a slightly less complimentary take on the move.

Chameleon Porter moves on . From overweight university party boy to long distance-running arch conservative, Charles Christian Porter has shed his skin more than once and has set about reinventing himself again. . . . Former classmates remember the then roly-poly student as the life of parties, in contrast to the demeanour that has dogged his political persona to the point the Opposition goads him as “tin man” – without a heart..” [16]

BUT WHO IS HE?

What are his thoughts?

In his inaugural Speech to the WA Parliament, he said the first and most important decision was whether I, Jenny and the dog would be comfortable making our home in the electorate of Murdoch.” . . . . . “First, I am a market liberal. . . . Second, I am a social individualist. . . . Third, I am a federalist. . . . Fourth, I am a legal conservative.” . . . . . “This (The Liberal Party) is the party which my father served as a state director, and which my grandfather created in Queensland, upon Menzies’ instruction, and which he served as a state director in Queensland and later as a minister of the Crown.[10]

In his Maiden Speech to the House of Representatives, he made clear his Liberal credentials, boasting that “My father later worked for the Liberal Party, doing so at his own father’s urging—a man now passed but who established the Queensland Liberal Party under the guidance of Sir Robert Menzies. So I grew up with my sister in a state of opportunities, with a fascination for turning points in a house with a faint but fair air of sport and politics. To now represent the Western Australians in Pearce, as a member of the Australian parliament, is the greatest responsibility of my own life; and for as long as I am entrusted with that responsibility I will give it absolutely everything I have.” . . . . . To the Premier of Western Australia: Colin, I thank you for your forbearance and friendship during my own agonised decision making. [9]

He may be a tad Workaholic-ish in his habits.

It said there’s never any shortage of urgers for a new Attorney-General and the temptation always is to offer everyone hope of a legislative solution to society’s ills. Christian Porter, who only entered the Parliament a year ago next week, is emerging as the most active Minister in the Barnett Government. Apart from the established agenda of election promises that Mr Porter carried into his portfolio, the Attorney-General seems to accumulate new issues like political flypaper. [11]

In the past month he’s agreed to review WA’s arson legislation, later floating a plan for electronic surveillance tags; questioned the deterrent value of soft penalties under the Young Offenders Act; suggested criminals could be banned from drinking alcohol, owning spray paint cans and mixing with other offenders; supported the idea of convicted people doing community service wearing distinctive vests and pledged to “die in a ditch” fighting the Rudd Government’s proposed national human rights charter because it would threaten his “tough-on-crime” stance. All that, along with forming a working group to investigate models for new prostitution laws, backing tougher maximum penalties for manslaughter, watering down the right to silence, scrapping double-jeopardy laws to allow retrials when there is compelling fresh evidence in serious cases and seeing through promised changes to truth-in-sentencing laws. Now, the only bits of that agenda covered when Governor Ken Michael set out the Barnett administration’s legislative schedule last November were truth in sentencing, prostitution law reform and some unspecified provisions under prohibited behaviour orders. [11]

Already on Mr Porter’s plate for this session of Parliament are mandatory minimum sentences for offenders who assault police officers, repealing Labor’s cannabis laws and the vexed issue of surrogacy. Other contentious issues such as a paedophile register and how to treat “near adult” juveniles, including suggestions that the Children’s Court could release their identities and other relevant details, are also floating around, unresolved. So what drives the flypaper law-and-order agenda threatening to swamp Mr Porter? [11]

Not everyone sees him as a great mover and shaker!

Perth QC Tom Percy accused him of arrogance over the truth-in-sentencing legislation and ignorance about prisons. “He is an old-fashioned politician because he really has no new ideas at all,”…… And the churches are also starting to get restless. Shane Wood, of the Catholic Diocesan Office of Justice, Ecology and Peace, says WA should be ashamed of Mr Porter’s approach. “We already have an incarceration rate of Aboriginal people that is far out of proportion with their percentage of the population,” Brother Wood said. “Here we have a politician who wants to be a follower rather than a leader.” [11]

Some Criticism

It was reported in the Australian of Feb 24, 2012, just before he decided on the move to Canberra that “PROMINENT West Australian barrister Grant Donaldson SC, recently appointed the state’s solicitor-general, will have his salary adjusted to account for his ongoing involvement in private practice. Mr Donaldson will take up the role from Monday.

Attorney-General Christian Porter, who announced the appointment this week, said Mr Donaldson was the ideal person for the position. Mr Donaldson has chosen to retain a limited private practice, and Mr Porter said the adjustment to salary was a slight change to previous practice and had been designed to allow government to attract the most senior counsel from the bar. [13]

Vex News commented on this event; “Keep in mind, Buswell and Porter are the WA Liberal government’s best-performers by a long way, sources on both sides of politics confirm. That said, Porter’s critics are coming out of the woodwork, some say his decision to appoint his chum the State Solicitor-General while allowing said mate to maintain a private legal practice was extraordinary if not technically improper. Others question Porter’s political judgment generally make reference to him being the grandson of a long-serving Liberal MP and son of a former party director, suggesting he is a “professional descendant.” A bit harsh perhaps, given he appears to be one of few of Barnett’s ministers on top of his game.” [8]

The move to Canberra was not necessarily a purely altruistic one.

A senior Liberal, who has known Mr Porter for decades, said he had decided to flee to Federal politics because he had been “spooked” by the political ramifications for a new leader of a Government with a declining GST share and the global economic uncertainties. . . . . . . Christian has been speculating for months how difficult it would be to win the 2017 election as Liberal leader given the state of the Government finances,” one said . . . . . .While Mr Porter’s Federal ambitions have not been a secret, many Liberals were worried it would reflect badly on the Barnett Government. . . . . . . . “This is a signal that he is jumping ship either because State politics is beneath him or because he thinks the State Liberals can’t win the next election,” one Liberal politician said. “Either way it does not augur well for the WA Liberals. [12]

He is unlikely to be subject to death stares in the Federal Party Room as Federal Liberal deputy leader Julie Bishop welcomed Mr Porter’s decision.

“He’s a highly talented person and should he be pre-selected (for Pearce) I would expect him to have a bright future in Federal politics,” she said. [12]

That talent and his Parliamentary experience in WA has been recognised already with his appointment to the Speaker’s panel. Talented, influential and ambitious, his move to the Federal sphere will create waves. Big surfing-type waves!

Since the early talk was of the talented and politically savvy Christian walking into the State Premier’s job upon his election, I would not be surprised to see him move up the Federal ranks at record speed. Given the mud the incompetent bully Abbott has slung over his complete Front Bench, Porter can expect to be the Liberal leader, possibly within the current term of the Parliament. Paul Sheahan agreed in an article he penned for the SMH in Dec 2013. [4]

On Tuesday 23 December 2014, Christian was sworn in as Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister of Australia by the Governor General, His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Retd). In his new role Christian will primarily focus on the continuation of the Government’s successful red tape cutting agenda, which has already resulted in $2.1billion in deregulatory savings. He will also be doing supporting work on the Federation White Paper process. [3]

With the support of WA and Queensland in his pocket, any dissension between the Liberal Machines in NSW and Victoria could well see Porter as a viable third candidate should the resentment directed at the new Turnbull Prime Ministership cause a further spill.

POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS (as at 15th Sept 2015)

Parliamentary positions
Member, Speaker’s Panel from 18.11.13 to 9.2.15.

Ministerial appointments
State: Attorney General (WA) from 23.9.08 to 12.6.12.
Minister for Corrective Services (WA) from 23.9.08 to 14.12.10.
Treasurer (WA) from 14.12.10 to 12.6.12.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister from 23.12.14.

Committee service
State: Joint Standing: Delegated Legislation from 12.3.08 to 7.7.08.
Federal: House of Representatives Standing: Privileges and Members’ Interests from 4.12.13 to 11.2.15; Social Policy and Legal Affairs from 4.12.13 to 25.9.14.
Joint Statutory: Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity from 4.12.13 to 12.2.15.
Joint Select: Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples from 4.12.13 to 11.2.15; Australia Fund Establishment from 25.9.14 to 25.6.15.

Parliamentary party positions
State: Shadow Attorney-General (WA) from 12.3.08 to 7.7.08. [5]

Social Media

Christian Porter is on Social Media. He tweets as Christian Porter (@cporterwa) and is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/christianportermp

REFERENCES

[1] Wikipedia as at 28th May, 2014

[2] W.A. Attorney General website (since changed)

[3] Christian Porter website

[4] Sydney Morning Herald 12th Dec, 2013

[5] Parliament of Australia website

[6] Pollbludger Jan 29, 2008

[7] Sunday Times

[8] Vex News June 12, 2012

[9] Parliament of Australia, Maiden Speech

[10] Parliament of WA Maiden Speech

[11] Networked Knowledge

[12] Yahoo.news.com

[13] The Australian 24th Feb 2012

[14] The WACA

[15] The Cygnet, Hale School Year Book

[16] Yahoo news Jun 13th 2012

[17] Parliament of WA Historical Data

6 responses to “Know Your Enemy; Who Is Christian Porter (Updated)

  1. Pingback: Why Leave The West? | polliepomes

  2. Scares the daylights out of me .. I’m soooo sick of Right Wing politicians who still think that the 1950’s were the be all and end all of ultimate lifestyles and are trying to get Australia back into that dream-machine which is only good because it’s so long ago! If you remember it correctly, it was only the “Happy Days” version which most “remember” and that was NOT reality!

    Like

  3. Pingback: A Nationwide Coalition Talent Quest! Entrant No 1 Appears in the West! | Café Whispers

  4. Pingback: Why leave the West? | Café Whispers

  5. Archie did you know that before C Porter entered politics he was a journo for ABC 720 perth as their political reporter in the early to mid 90s

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s