Nationals MP Andrew Broad will quit parliament at the next federal election in the wake of a sex scandal that forced his resignation from the front bench on Monday.
Mr Broad announced late on Tuesday morning (ADST) that he would stand down from his Victorian seat of Mallee.
He thanked his family, his staff and his local community.
“I have done my best and at times we have achieved good things, but I have also let them down,” he said.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack had urged the embattled MP to “consider his future” after news broke that he used a “sugar daddy” website to meet a woman 20 years his junior in Hong Kong. That scandal, and the police investigation that followed, prompted Mr Broad to quit as assistant minister to Mr McCormack on Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison was blindsided by the scandal and learned of the police investigation only after reading New Idea magazine, which broke the story.
The New Daily can reveal that Mr Broad embarked on his fateful and inauspicious trip to Hong Kong to meet up with the woman within days of being appointed to the ministry in August.
He texted the woman, who was known by the alias “Sweet Sophia Rose”, to inform her of his “big promotion.”
Mr Broad told The New Daily he travelled to Hong Kong as a minister on electorate business, but paid for the international travel and accommodation privately before meeting the woman.
“I paid for it. I paid for it all myself,” Mr Broad said.
“I’ve never been one to put myself on a moral high ground. I am full of mistakes like anyone else.”
The married MP, who has previously opposed same-sex marriage and compared homosexuals with “randy rams”, said the fallout from the scandal was a private matter between himself and his wife, and he would not discuss it publicly.
“Government is imperfect people governing imperfect people,” he told The New Daily.
Mr Broad’s comments come as News Corp reports at least three women contacted the National Party in the past year to make allegations about his behaviour.
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.
The New Daily understands that Mr Broad claims his Hong Kong “date” asked for $8000 in cash after their meeting, during which they did not have sexual relations. He declined her request.
The Member for Mallee referred the incident to the Australian Federal Police.
The AFP said Monday night it investigated the matter in November and failed to find any offence under Australian law.
The Deputy Prime Minister was also dragged into the scandal after first claiming to have only learned of the matter a couple of weeks ago, before it emerged the police referral was on November 8.
It has now emerged Mr McCormack kept the scandal from the Prime Minister before the affair blew up on the same day the Morrison Government released its Mid Year Fiscal Outlook.
“When asked today about the timing of Mr Broad’s notification to me of allegations against him in the media, I responded ‘a couple of weeks ago’, as I thought that was approximately the timing of that call,” Mr McCormack said Monday night.
“At the time, Mr Broad advised me that he had contacted someone overseas for a date and went out to dinner with the individual. He said nothing more than that had happened and that he was on a personal trip to Hong Kong,” he said.
“Further, he told me the person had then made contact with him again after the dinner in circumstances I felt he should refer to the AFP, if he had not already done so.
“Based on the information provided to me by Mr Broad, I believed it was a matter for him and his family at that time.”
“Sweet Sophia Rose”, who New Idea named as Amy, was quoted as saying Mr Broad put his hand on her leg but she rejected him after he complained bitterly of the prices at the expensive Hong Kong restaurant where they met.
— New Idea magazine (@NewIdeamagazine) December 17, 2018
The New Daily does not suggest the New Idea allegations are true, only that the woman has made them.
New Idea also alleged 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 Broad insists the trip to Hong Kong was related to his electorate work and was privately funded.
“The travel was arranged and subject to all normal approval processes prior to becoming a minister and it related to electorate matters – all international travel was self-funded, and any travel domestically between Melbourne and Mildura can be repaid if needed,” he said.
“I visited Asian Fruit Logistica and I paid for it.”
Mr McCormack described Mr Broad’s prospects of re-contesting Mallee for the Nationals as “hypothetical”.
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.”