Porter said the reported rape allegation did not warrant him standing down from his job.
“If I stand down from my position as attorney-general because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work based on nothing more than an accusation that appears in print,” Porter said.
“If that happens, anyone in public life is able to be removed simply by the printing of an allegation,” he added.
Porter said he was 17 when he competed alongside the then-16-year-old accuser on a four-member school debate team in January 1988. He said he had not heard from her since.
“I did not sleep with the (alleged) victim. We didn’t have anything of that nature happen between us,” Porter said.
“I remember the person as an intelligent, bright, happy person,” he added.
The woman has not been named. Police are preparing evidence to help a coroner determine the cause of her death.
The case has added to intensifying scrutiny of attitudes toward sexual harassment and violence in Parliament after a staffer made an unrelated allegation two weeks ago that she had been raped by a senior colleague in a minister’s office.
The government notified Parliament House staff in an email this week of a new confidential complaints hotline for the reporting of serious workplace incidents.