Microsoft distances itself from executive's critical comments about Christian Porter appointment


Microsoft distances itself from executive who slammed Christian Porter’s move to tech minister over allegations he raped a teenager in 1988 and claimed his appoint would scare women out of the industry

  • Microsoft has distanced itself from comments made by one of its top executives 
  • Asia-Pacific start-ups chief said she expected better from government re-shuffle
  • Christian Porter was moved to technology minister after rape claims he denies 
  • ‘It’s challenging to understand the timing of this,’ the executive Emily Rich said 

Microsoft's director of start-ups for the Asia-Pacific Emily Rich said she was 'entitled to expect better' after Christian Porter was not removed from Scott Morrison's cabinet

Microsoft’s director of start-ups for the Asia-Pacific Emily Rich said she was ‘entitled to expect better’ after Christian Porter was not removed from Scott Morrison’s cabinet

Microsoft has distanced itself from critical comments made by one of its top Australian executives about the appointment of Christian Porter as technology minister.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison demoted Mr Porter from attorney-general to the industry, science and technology portfolio after he was accused of raping a 16-year-old member of his debating team 33 years ago when he was 17 – an allegation he strongly denies.

Microsoft’s director of start-ups for the Asia-Pacific, Emily Rich, said on Tuesday she was ‘entitled to expect better’.

‘As a woman in Australia where one in six have experienced sexual violence, the appointment of a minister even remotely linked to such allegations… it’s challenging to understand the timing of this,’ she told the Australian Financial Review.

‘This is a moment of national significance. We’re entitled to expect better.’

Ms Rich said the decision to give Mr Porter another cabinet role would deter those working in the technology sector from engaging with the federal government. 

Christian Porter (pictured with estranged wife Jennifer) was accused of raping a 16-year-old member of his debating team 33 years ago - which he strongly denies

Christian Porter (pictured with estranged wife Jennifer) was accused of raping a 16-year-old member of his debating team 33 years ago – which he strongly denies

The executive has previously taken part in roundtable discussions with Mr Porter’s predecessor as technology minister Karen Andrews. 

‘The tech industry is estimated to be worth $315 billion to the Australian economy in the future, so we should care about that and we need leadership now more than ever,’ she said.

Microsoft Australia’s Managing Director Steven Worrall said in a statement on Thursday the views Ms Rich expressed in the interview were not those of the company as a whole.

‘Microsoft Australia wishes to clarify that the views expressed in the Australian Financial Review by Microsoft’s director of start-ups – in relation to the appointment of Mr Christian Porter as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology – were the individual’s personal views and not the views of Microsoft Australia,’ he said.

‘We feel it is important to set the record straight on this matter, given ongoing speculation to the contrary.’

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Ms Rich for comment. 

Angel investor Alan Jones said in the same AFR article that he and others in the technology industry would refuse to have anything to do with Mr Porter.

‘We’re all passionate advocates for gender diversity. We’re not going to take calls from his advisers or be prepared to meet with him, and we won’t be getting roundtables together,’ he said.

Attorney-General Christian Porter is suing the ABC for publishing an article online accusing him of raping a debating teammate in 1988. He emphatically denied the allegation in a tearful press conference

Attorney-General Christian Porter is suing the ABC for publishing an article online accusing him of raping a debating teammate in 1988. He emphatically denied the allegation in a tearful press conference

Mr Porter's legal team commenced defamation action at the Federal Court on March 15, accusing journalist Louise Milligan (pictured) of running a 'campaign against Porter'

Mr Porter’s legal team commenced defamation action at the Federal Court on March 15, accusing journalist Louise Milligan (pictured) of running a ‘campaign against Porter’

Mr Porter is suing the ABC over the article which broke the allegations he raped a 16-year-old girl in 1988.

The article published online on February 26 did not name Mr Porter but his lawyers said ‘many Australians’ could work out it was about him. 

He later acknowledged he was the minister referred to in the article during a tearful media conference in which he announced he was taking mental health leave.  

Mr Porter’s legal team commenced defamation action at the Federal Court on March 15, accusing journalist Louise Milligan of running a ‘campaign against Mr Porter in order to harm his reputation and have him removed.’ 

Mr Porter’s lawyers challenged the ABC to prove the rape claim is true and said he will ‘give evidence denying these false allegations on oath’, meaning he could be cross-examined in court.  

The Porter rape claim: A timeline 

1988: Debating competition in Sydney at which woman later alleges she was raped

2013: Woman tells sexual assault counsellor about her allegation 

Late 2019: Woman engages lawyers and prepares a statement

February 2020: Woman reports allegations to NSW Police

March 2020: Police postpone trip to visit her due to Covid-19 

June 2020: Woman withdraws allegation and dies by suicide

February 24, 2021: Anonymous letter is sent to PM detailing allegations

March 1, 2021: PM says minister completely rejects the allegations

March 2, 2021: NSW Police close the case

March 3, 2021: Christian Porter goes public to deny allegation

March 15, 2021: Mr Porter sues the ABC for defamation 

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