Nationals MP Andrew Broad has resigned from the front bench and called in the police after New Idea published allegations he used a sugar daddy website to meet a woman in Hong Kong on an official trip.
The married MP, who has previously opposed same-sex marriage and compared homosexuals with “randy rams”, has asked the federal police to investigate the claims.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack confirmed on Monday he had known about the issue for a fortnight, just hours after New Idea published the allegations. The claims had been kept secret by the party’s leadership group for two weeks.
The New Daily does not suggest the New Idea allegations are true.
“I have been advised that the person making the allegation may have engaged in criminal activity,” Mr Broad told the magazine.
“This matter has been reported to the Australian Federal Police and I will not be making any further comment.”
Mr Broad, the member for the Victorian seat of Mallee, was recently appointed assistant minister to the deputy prime minister.
— New Idea magazine (@NewIdeamagazine) December 17, 2018
The New Idea article alleges Mr Broad connected with a younger woman on a “sugar daddy” website before going on a date in Hong Kong – where he complained about the price of dinner.
The woman, called Amy, used the online tag “Sweet Sophia Rose” to meet older men.
New Idea also alleges that Mr Broad told prospective dates “I’m an Aussie lad, I know how to ride a horse, fly a plane and f–k my woman. My intentions are completely dishonourable”.
“He kept saying that he was very important and that when he left he was going to have to throw away his phone. He referred to himself as James Bond numerous times,’’ the woman told New Idea.
Mr McCormack said the issue was a matter for the federal police, although he did not outline exactly how Mr Broad thought laws might have been broken.
“Obviously, I know Mr Broad will co-operate with the Australian Federal Police,” he said.
“I urged him to contact the Australian Federal Police about the allegations that had been made by him and against him, so I think that is the right course of action, and we will see what the AFP comes up with as a result of these investigations.”
Asked how he found out, Mr McCormack revealed it was “a couple of weeks ago”.
“He has resigned as the assistant minister,” he said.
As far as his seat is concerned, that is a matter for Mr Broad and let’s see how the AFP [goes], let’s see what they come up with.”
Mr McCormack described Mr Broad’s prospects of re-contesting Mallee for the Nationals as “hypothetical”.
The Deputy Prime Minister repeatedly said he wanted all of his ministers to “do the right thing” – but did not explain what the wrong thing was that led to Mr Broad’s resignation.
“The National Party stands for better regional services,” he said. “We do what is right for regional Australia and these sort of things, they take away from the good message that we are selling. We have been a very good government.”
In February, Mr Broad was one of the first Coalition MPs to call for former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce to resign after news broke of his affair with staffer Vikki Campion.
Labor’s Chris Bowen said on Monday he did not wish to comment on Mr Broad’s private life.
“Obviously, his resignation has a personal element for which I have absolutely no comment; that is entirely a matter for him,” he said. “His resignation doesn’t help the chaos and dysfunction at the heart of the Morrison government.”
The New Daily has contacted Mr Broad, but a spokeswoman said only: “I don’t have anything for you at the moment. Will let you know when I do”.
On Monday, Mr McCormack also addressed the issue of “vile” text messages sent to journalist Annika Smethurst by a Nationals staffer. They included references to “bitchslapping” feminists.
The employee concerned has since apologised and taken leave.
“There are circumstances in relation to that matter which he needs to seek assistance, and he is seeking assistance with. The fact is, it was an accidental and inadvertent sending,’’ Mr McCormack said.
“I know the journalist, and I’ve had a number of discussions with her … I do not condone in any way, shape or form the language, the vile language that was used in those texts.”