Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also revealed on Four Corners he had warned then-cabinet minister Christian Porter that his personal conduct could expose him to blackmail after hearing reports claiming Porter had been seen out drinking in the company of young women at a bar in Canberra.
Several witnesses alleged to the ABC that Porter, who was married at the time, was “cuddling and kissing” a female Liberal staffer. Porter has denied the claims.
Turnbull later admitted on Q&A that had he known the full extent of the allegations he might not have promoted the minister to the position of Attorney-General.
“I may well have been too forgiving. If I’d known at the time what was broadcast tonight I would have made further inquiries before I made him Attorney-General,” Turnbull said.
It all sounded awfully familiar to Amber Harrison. She was the lover of Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner while she worked at the media company as an executive assistant to then-Pacific Magazines boss Nick Chan.
She left Seven in 2014 after signing two deeds, which provided for a series of payments totalling hundreds of thousands of dollars to be made to her and also bound her to a promise not to speak publicly about the company or the relationship.
The payments from Seven to Harrison stopped in early 2015, when a further 10 instalments were yet to be paid, because she did not comply with an obligation to hand over her electronic devices and records.
Harrison then became embroiled in an ugly court battle with the broadcaster after she revealed embarrassing details about the affair in 2016. She was also accused of racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in unauthorised expenses on her company credit card.
Eventually she walked away from her battle with Seven West Media and agreed to a permanent gag order preventing her speaking about the company or her affair with Worner, who remained in his job for a further three years.
To this day Harrison maintains she has no regrets about going public, and says nor should Rachelle Miller.
“Well done Rachelle Miller,” she told me in the wake of Monday night’s revelations.
“Why should she accept that she get blacklisted, driven out, that the consequences for her are so unequal?
“Rachelle won’t regret speaking up and out and putting her name to it. I don’t.”
Harrison also described the “bonk ban” placed on ministers which prohibits them from engaging in sexual relationships with their staff, as “a ridiculous, unrealistic test which very few Australian workplaces could pass”.
Rather, Harrison says the focus should be on addressing what she claimed was “protectionism”.
“Powerful men who sit in judgement of others while simultaneously having affairs and using power to silence those who disagree with them are poster boys for the protection racket of sexism, entitlement and hypocrisy,” she said.
Harrison paid a high financial, emotional and professional cost after going public but says she has since managed to rebuild her life, both personally and professionally.
“Entrepreneur Kylie Hammond took a punt on hiring me following my media storm,” she said. “I highly recommend working for powerful self-made women versus the old school boys clubs.”
Andrew Hornery is a senior journalist and Private Sydney columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald.