A self-described “idiot” minister in the Morrison government who sparked a formal complaint after hugging a female defence officer faces a fresh scandal over whether he has failed to declare his extensive property portfolio to Parliament.
Assistant Minister for Roads Scott Buchholz told The New Daily on Thursday he was seeking urgent clarification from his accountant to determine the current ownership of five properties in Queensland.
According to RP Data searches Mr Buchholz and his former wife Lynn own a string of properties, but only two are declared on his register of interests in the House of Representatives as required.
“I have always kept my register of interests up to date with amendments provided as required,” he said.
“I’m currently going through a property settlement as the result of a divorce and will keep my members register of interests up to date within the required timeframe.”
On Friday, Mr Buchholz said he was now confident that the register did not need to be updated.
Another property in Charles Street, Dalby, was an asset of Buchholz Family Trust of which Mr Buchholz said he was not a Trustee, nor a beneficiary of so did not need to declare.
There was a Blackwater investment property that is already listed on the register.
A second property Blackwater was in the name of ex wife Lynn so was not listed as they had separated.
Mr Buchholz’s family home in Boonah is already listed.
Mr Buchholz declared himself an “idiot” on Thursday after a female Defence officer lodged an official complaint about his behaviour on a military exchange.
The incident occurred during Operation Pitch Black in Darwin in August, during an exchange attended by several other Coalition and Labor MPs.
“I behaved like an idiot on a parliamentary exchange last year and I recognise how inappropriate my actions were,” Mr Buchholz said.
“I apologised for my conduct and the offence I caused, and I reiterate my deep respect for the ADF and its members.”
However, even Labor colleagues have rallied to his defence, claiming the allegations are “a beat up”.
“Scott is an old-fashioned bloke, but he’s not a groper,” a Labor MP said.
“This one was an inside hit, not from us. It’s a massive beat up.”
The Defence Department declined to outline exactly what behaviour triggered the complaint.
However, The New Daily has been told it is believed to have involved “hugging”.
“Scotty is a big hugger,” a colleague said.
The ADF declined, when asked, to clarify whether the woman in question had lodged a formal complaint or whether a supervisor had simply filed a report.
“Defence can confirm that a complaint was made by an Australian Defence Force member about the behaviour of a Parliamentarian during Exercise Pitch Black 2018,” a spokesperson said.
“The Parliamentarian was participating in the exercise as part of the Australian Defence Force Parliamentary Program. The complaint was referred to the Office of the Minister for Defence Personnel.
“Defence subsequently received an apology from the Parliamentarian and is satisfied with the response.”
Mr Buchholz is a close confidant to former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce.
It’s not the first time that Mr Buchholz has run into trouble with female colleagues.
As chief government whip, he was accused of urging Liberal frontbencher Kelly O’Dwyer to pump more breast milk to ensure she did not miss crucial votes because she was breastfeeding her daughter, Olivia.
Ms O’Dwyer is understood to have taken a dim view of Mr Buchholz’s advice, outlining her view to him forcefully on the floor of Parliament.
However, colleagues also denied this incident occurred and said Mr Buchholz was unaware at the time of what expressing breastmilk actually meant and on that basis was not about to urge mothers to do it.