Christian Porter

Charles Christian Porter (born 11 July 1970) is an Australian Liberal Party politician and lawyer serving as Attorney-General of Australia since 2017, and has served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Pearce since 2013. He was appointed Minister for Industrial Relations and Leader of the House in 2019.

Christian Porter

Attorney-General for Australia
Assumed office
20 December 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Scott Morrison
Preceded byGeorge Brandis
Leader of the House
Assumed office
26 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
DeputyDarren Chester
Preceded byChristopher Pyne
Minister for Industrial Relations
Assumed office
26 May 2019
Prime MinisterScott Morrison
Preceded byKelly O'Dwyer
Treasurer of Western Australia
In office
14 December 2010  12 June 2012
PremierColin Barnett
Preceded byColin Barnett
Succeeded byColin Barnett
Attorney-General of Western Australia
In office
23 September 2008  12 June 2012
PremierColin Barnett
Preceded byJim McGinty
Succeeded byMichael Mischin
Minister for Social Services
In office
21 September 2015  20 December 2017
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byScott Morrison
Succeeded byDan Tehan
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Pearce
Assumed office
7 September 2013
Preceded byJudi Moylan
Personal details
Charles Christian Porter

(1970-07-11) 11 July 1970[1]
Perth, Western Australia,
Political partyLiberal Party
Spouse(s)Jennifer Porter[2]
FatherChilla Porter
RelativesCharles Robert Porter (grandfather)
Alma materHale School
University of Western Australia (B.Ec, B.A (Hons), LL.B)[3]
London School of Economics (M.Sc)[3]
ProfessionPolitician, lawyer

From Perth, Porter attended Hale School, the University of Western Australia and later the London School of Economics, and practised law at Clayton Utz and taught law at the University of Western Australia before his election to parliament. He is the son of the 1956 Olympic silver medallist, Charles "Chilla" Porter, and the grandson of Queensland Liberal politician, Charles Porter, who was a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly from 1966 to 1980.[4][5]

Before his election to the federal House of Representatives, Porter had served in the Parliament of Western Australia. He first entered the Legislative Assembly after winning the seat of Murdoch in a 2008 by-election following the death of the sitting member, Trevor Sprigg, and he was subsequently elected to the new seat of Bateman at the 2008 general election. After the Liberals formed government, Porter was appointed Attorney-General in the Barnett ministry. In December 2010, he was also appointed Treasurer, and held both portfolios until June 2012, when he resigned from the ministry to contest the 2013 federal election.

Prior to assuming his current position, Porter was Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister in the Abbott Government from December 2014 to September 2015,[6][7] and then Minister for Social Services in the Turnbull Government from September 2015 to December 2017.

Background and early career

Porter's father was Charles "Chilla" Porter, who during the 1970s and 1980s was director of Western Australia's Liberal Party.[5] His grandfather, Sir Charles Robert Porter, was a Queensland Liberal state MP between 1966 and 1980 and served in the ministry of Joh Bjelke-Petersen.[5]

Porter was educated at Hale School, then at the University of Western Australia where he graduated Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours in politics, before completing a Bachelor of Laws degree. Porter later studied at the London School of Economics for a Master of Science in political theory, from which he graduated at the top of his class with distinction.[8]

Prior to entering Parliament, Porter worked predominantly as a lawyer, starting as a commercial litigator at Clayton Utz 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 Curtin University and the University of Western Australia as well as retaining, part-time, his position as senior prosecutor at the DPP.[9]

Porter has described himself as "not particularly religious".[10]

State politics

At the 2008 election, Porter contested and won the newly created seat of Bateman following the abolition of the seat of Murdoch in the 2007 redistribution. He was appointed Attorney-General and Minister for Corrective Services after the election,[11] having held the equivalent shadow portfolios prior to the election.[12]

On 14 December 2010, Porter was sworn in as Treasurer of Western Australia. He retained the portfolio of Attorney General, while the Corrective Services portfolio was transferred to Terry Redman.

On 12 June 2012, he announced he was stepping down from his ministerial portfolios to contest the seat of Pearce at the 2013 Australian federal election.[13]

Federal politics

At the 2013 election, Porter was elected to federal parliament with an 8% margin. He had a rapid rise through the ranks, becoming the parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister in 2014-15, and was a part of the speaker's panel from 2013-15.[14]

Minister for Social Services (2015–2017)

On 20 September 2015, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced that Porter would replace Scott Morrison as Social Services Minister as part of a Cabinet overhaul.[15]

In 2016, Centrelink, operating under Porter's senior oversight as Social Services Minister, became involved in a debt recovery controversy. Despite heightened media interest and complaints, after meeting with the Department of Human Services,[16] Porter stated that the program was working "incredibly well".[17] The program was later subject to a Senate committee inquiry.[18]

One of Porter's roles was to manage the cashless welfare card, and increased its use in various communities. He spoke of his pride in the outcomes of the policy.[19] The card was linked to increased hardship for many of its users,[20] and there is no evidence that it produces a positive outcome.[21][22][23]

During his time in this ministry, Porter was instrumental in the formation of the coalition policy of performing drug tests on welfare recipients, which was considered bad policy by experts, since there was no evidence anywhere in the world of a similar project working,[24] and the ABC fact checkers called the policy "wishful thinking" that it would help people get off welfare.[25] This section of the legislation was eventually dropped to allow the passage of the remaining elements of the bill, which contained large budget cuts to the welfare system.[26][27]

Porter was criticised for skipping the final sittings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in order to attend the cricket with John Howard.[28]

Attorney-General (2017–present)

In a December 2017 reshuffle of the Turnbull ministry, Porter became Attorney-General in place of George Brandis. He relinquished the social services portfolio to Dan Tehan.

At the reshuffle, some of the national security powers and responsibilities previously held by the Attorney-General were transferred to the new position of Minister for Home Affairs, which was given to Peter Dutton.[29] This was seen as a positive by some, who said that the role of attorney general had become too focused on security and that the role should be realigned to its old role of defending the rule of law. It was also suggested that many areas of the law were in crisis because of the security focus, such as family law and incarceration levels of indigenous Australians.[30]

At the commencement of his role as attorney general, Porter called on religious institutions to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.[31]

Following the raids on the journalists of the ABC and Newscorp, Porter would not rule out prosecuting journalists for publishing public interest stories, although he said he would be "seriously disinclined" to go ahead with a prosecution.[32] In the case of Newscorp journalist Annika Smethurst, Porter asked the court not to destroy the evidence collected from the raid on her house, so that it could be used in a future court case. Porter and the Federal Police said the restrictive privacy when it comes to security matters, "may justify very large incursions on the freedom" of individuals.[33]

In November 2019, Porter as Attorney-General extended the religious freedom bill from faith-based schools and organisations to religious hospitals and aged-care providers. The bill states that the aforementioned institutions would be able to employ staff according to their beliefs with legal protection.[34]

Other actions he has taken in his role have been calling on social media platforms to be seen as publishers,[35] attempts to block environmental groups from calling on boycotts of companies connected to the coal industry,[36] repealing the medevac laws, to restrict union activity[37] and attempted to have GetUp! registered as an arm of the Labor party.[38]

Personal life

Porter was listed as a contender for Cleo magazine's eligible bachelor of the year.[31]

Porter is married, and took paternity leave after his wife, Jennifer, gave birth to his first child, Lachlan, the day after being sworn in as the social services minister.[39]


  1. WA Parliament bio
  2. "Christian Porter Biography". Christian Porter: Federal Member for Pearce. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  3. "Hon Christian Porter MP - Parliament of Australia". Retrieved 26 April 2019.
  4. "First Speech: Hon Christian Porter MP". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 7 November 2015.
  5. Poprzeczny, Joseph (7 July 2012). "Promising WA MP's Canberra bid". News Weekly. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  6. Taylor, Lenore (21 December 2014). "Tony Abbott cabinet reshuffle moves Scott Morrison out of immigration". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  7. "Tony Abbott's revamped Ministry sworn in at Government House". News Corp Australia. 23 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  8. "From Cleo to Canberra: Christian Porter is an MP to watch".
  11. Anglie Raphael, Christian Porter is given the role of Shadow Attorney General, Melville times community, 18 March 2008, p.3
  12. Tullberg, Julie (23 February 2008). "SMH Online News – Porter claims win in Murdoch by-election". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 June 2008.
  13. "WA Treasurer quits state politics for federal stage". ABC News. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  14. corporateName=Commonwealth Parliament; address=Parliament House, Canberra. "Hon Christian Porter MP". Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  15. Clarke, political reporter Melissa; Conifer, Dan (20 September 2015). "Turnbull dumps ministers to make way for Cabinet 'renewal'". ABC News. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  16. "Community Affairs References Committee". Parliament of Australia. 18 May 2017. p. 46. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  17. McIlroy, Tom (3 January 2017). "Centrelink's automated debt recovery system working 'incredibly well': Minister Christian Porter". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  18. Doran, Matthew (8 March 2017). "Centrelink debt recovery program to be investigated at Senate committee today". ABC News. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  19. "Miranda Live: Cashless welfare improves lives says Christian Porter". Daily Telegraph. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  20. Koslowski, Max (13 September 2019). "'The card declined and I broke down': Life on the cashless welfare card". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  21. "Briefing: What's wrong with the cashless debitcard?" (PDF). Vinnies. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  22. Koslowski, Max (12 September 2019). "What are cashless welfare cards and how do they work?". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  23. Allam, Lorena (15 October 2019). "Cashless welfare card: loophole allows purchase of alcohol and pornography". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  24. Henriques-Gomes, Luke (9 September 2019). "The Coalition want to drug test welfare recipients. Here's why experts think it's a bad idea". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  25. "Fact check: Drug testing welfare recipients". ABC News. 18 September 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  26. Knaus, Christopher (22 November 2017). "Drug testing of welfare recipients may be delayed, Christian Porter says". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  27. "Welfare drug testing pilot halted". The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  28. "Christian Porter cops it for choosing cricket over commission". NewsComAu. 14 December 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  29. "Porter's the new AG, but can he keep his own seat?". ABC News. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  30. "Attorney-General Christian Porter to prioritise family law, rule of law". Australian Financial Review. 19 December 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  31. Peatling, Stephanie (19 December 2017). "Christian Porter, the country's new top legal officer". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  32. Remeikis, Amy (20 October 2019). "Christian Porter says he can't guarantee he wouldn't prosecute journalists". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  33. Karp, Paul (25 October 2019). "Christian Porter asks high court not to destroy material from Annika Smethurst raid". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  34. "Subscribe to The Australian | Newspaper home delivery, website, iPad, iPhone & Android apps". Retrieved 20 November 2019.
  35. Karp, Paul (20 November 2019). "Christian Porter calls for Facebook and Twitter to be treated as publishers". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  36. editor, Adam Morton Environment (10 November 2019). "Inside Market Forces, the small climate group Scott Morrison wants to put out of business". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  37. editor, Adam Morton Environment (10 November 2019). "Inside Market Forces, the small climate group Scott Morrison wants to put out of business". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  38. Karp, Paul (21 October 2019). "Liberal MPs complain about GetUp at inquiry into 2019 election". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
  39. "Who is Christian Porter? | PBA". Pro Bono Australia. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Judi Moylan
Member for Pearce
Political offices
Preceded by
Scott Morrison
Minister for Social Services
Succeeded by
Dan Tehan
Preceded by
George Brandis
Attorney-General for Australia
Preceded by
Jim McGinty
Attorney-General of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Michael Mischin
Preceded by
Colin Barnett
Treasurer of Western Australia
Succeeded by
Colin Barnett
Parliament of Western Australia
Preceded by
Trevor Sprigg
Member for Murdoch
District abolished
District established Member for Bateman
Succeeded by
Matt Taylor
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