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Andrew Broad to leave Parliament following dating website scandal

andrew-broad-to-leave-parliament-following-dating-website-scandal

Nationals MP Andrew Broad will not contest the next election following a scandal involving his use of a dating website to meet women overseas.

Key points:

  • Mr Broad announced he would not contest the 2019 election following reports he used a dating website to meet younger women
  • His announcement came shortly after the Deputy PM advised him to consider his future
  • Mr Broad said the people of Mallee would be "best served in the next parliament by a different Nationals candidate"

The embattled MP resigned as an assistant minister yesterday, and this morning Deputy Prime Minister and Nationals leader Michael McCormack said Mr Broad should consider his future in Parliament.

Mr Broad issued a statement shortly after.

"Today I have informed the president of the Victorian Division of The Nationals that I am withdrawing my nomination to contest the Division of Mallee at the next federal election," he said.

"After recent media stories about my private life, it is clear that the people of Mallee will be best served in the next parliament by a different Nationals candidate."

A new candidate will be preselected early next year for Mr Broad's seat of Mallee, one of the safest in the country.

Yesterday it was revealed Mr Broad, married and aged 43, had met a woman almost 20 years his junior on a personal trip to a conference in Hong Kong.

The revelations in New Idea magazine described the website they met through as a "sugar baby" dating website, and included allegations from the woman known as Amy of Mr Broad acting inappropriately towards her.

Mr Broad quit as assistant minister to the Deputy Prime Minister as the story hit the headlines, and claimed the woman making the allegations may have committed a criminal offence.

The Australian Federal Police said it found no offences had been committed under Australian law.

McCormack rebuffs suggestion of party 'women problem'

Mr Broad will remain the Member for Mallee in north-western Victoria until the 2019 election.

"I think he needs to work out whether that is entirely his future," Mr McCormack told reporters on the New South Wales north coast.

"I think he's got more concerns at the moment with sorting out his own personal issues.

"I would like to think that somebody who was going to represent the National Party was entirely focused on the people we serve."

Asked whether the circumstances around Mr Broad's resignation were further evidence the Coalition had a problem with its treatment of women, Mr McCormack pointed to the fact "both the women" in the National Party were ministers.

The Nationals have 22 MPs and senators in Federal Parliament.

"No, it's not … both the women in my party — Bridget McKenzie, my deputy leader, and Michelle Landry — are ministers.

"And certainly the women's council of the National Party at a federal and at a state level are doing a fantastic job to encourage more women to put their hands up for office."

Broad to repay taxpayer funds for flights

Meanwhile, it is understood Mr Broad will pay back taxpayers for flights between his home town of Mildura and Melbourne.

Mr Broad attended the Hong Kong conference on personal business in September. Parliamentary travel records show he charged taxpayers for flights between Mildura and Melbourne before and after the conference.

The ABC has confirmed Mr Broad will pay back the cost of those two flights, about $480.

The Nationals MP has been contacted for comment.

Yesterday, Mr McCormack downplayed discrepancies between his public comments on when Mr Broad told him about the incident and when the AFP were asked to investigate.

Mr McCormack had said he had been made aware of the claims to be published in New Idea "a couple of weeks ago", and advised Mr Broad to contact the AFP.

Police confirmed they had in fact received a referral from Mr Broad in early November.

Despite the Nationals knowing of the allegations for a number of weeks, the Prime Minister was not informed until yesterday, before Mr Broad resigned.

"I thought it was a personal matter between him and his family," Mr McCormack said.

"I don't tell the Prime Minister absolutely everything about every Member of Parliament, he's got enough on his mind at the moment.

"I wasn't aware of the entire extent of what had taken place, I wasn't made aware of that, and I wasn't made aware of that until yesterday."

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ABC .net

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