Christian Porter bemoans ‘harshness of politics’ as he announces he’ll quit parliament

<span>Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Sam Mooy/Getty Images

Former attorney general will not recontest his seat of Pearce in Western Australia at next year’s federal election

Christian Porter has revealed he will quit politics at the next federal election, leaving with bitter words about the “harshness” that comes with elected office.

Porter, the former attorney general and leader of the lower house, said on Wednesday he had decided not to recontest his West Australian seat of Pearce.

In a statement on his website and Facebook, Porter complained that one of the only certainties in politics was “that there appears to be no limit to what some will say or allege or do to gain an advantage over a perceived enemy”.

“This makes the harshness that can accompany the privilege of representing people, harder than ever before,” he said on Wednesday. “But even though I have experienced perhaps more of the harshness of modern politics than most, there are no regrets.”

Porter said “before each election, I have always asked myself whether I could absolutely guarantee another three years of total commitment to the electorate because people deserve that commitment, free of any reservations”.

“After a long time giving everything I could to the people of Pearce, it’s now time to give more of what is left to those around me whose love has been unconditional.”

Porter said a new Liberal candidate would best serve the needs of Pearce. He listed career achievements including lobbying for GST reform and securing funding for West Australian infrastructure projects.

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Porter has had a tumultuous year after he identified himself in March as the subject of an ABC story alleging an unidentified cabinet minister had been accused of rape in January 1988 in a dossier sent to Scott Morrison and three other parliamentarians.

Porter strenuously denied the allegations but gave up the attorney general’s portfolio after launching a defamation action against the ABC and reporter Louise Milligan.

In late May, Porter agreed to discontinue the case, after the ABC stated it did not intend to suggest Porter had committed the alleged offence and that it regretted that “some readers misinterpreted the article as an accusation of guilt against Mr Porter”.

In September, Porter disclosed that unidentified donors had partly paid his legal fees for the case. He claimed as a potential beneficiary of what he described as a blind trust he had no access to information about the ultimate source of the funds.

Porter maintained he properly disclosed his interests in accordance with both the rules and the ministerial standards, but he resigned as a minister in September on the basis the issue had become an “unhelpful distraction” for the government.

Labor attempted to refer Porter to the privileges committee, a move defeated by the government, but the committee continued to consider a separate complaint from the shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus.

The committee concluded that he did not breach disclosure rules but called for an overhaul to protect the “intent and integrity” of the register and warned all MPs to provide the “greatest” possible disclosure.

Porter’s ordinarily safe Liberal seat of Pearce could prove difficult to hold for the Morrison government, given its margin has been slashed to 5.2% by a redistribution and the Labor brand is riding high in Western Australia due to the popularity of the Mark McGowan state government.