PM blindsided by MP ‘sugar baby’ scandal
SCOTT Morrison was kept in the dark about Andrew Broad's meeting with a "sugar baby" on an overseas work trip for almost six weeks by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack.
It's understood the Prime Minister called Mr McCormack immediately after he found out yesterday through media reports that Mr Broad had exchanged sexually explicit texts with the younger woman and met her for dinner while on a work trip to Hong Kong.
The Nationals leader then released a statement saying he had accepted Mr Broad's resignation from his highly paid frontbench role as Assistant Minister to the Deputy Prime Minister.
Mr McCormack later admitted last night he had known about the matter since early November.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg would not criticise Mr McCormack for failing to act sooner this morning but told the Nine Network: "Look, as soon as the prime minister heard, he acted straight away."
He condemned Mr Broad's behaviour, adding: "I think Michael McCormack was trying to work through this issue but what is very clear is that this conduct was unacceptable."
"He has resigned. That was the right thing to do."
Mr Frydenberg refused to be drawn on whether he was angry the scandal had overshadowed his announcement yesterday that the government had achieved the best budget figures in more than a decade.
Mr Broad has broken his silence after the allegations became public in New Idea yesterday to defend his work trip to Hong Kong and his behaviour.
"I paid for it. I paid for it all myself," Mr Broad told The New Daily.
He added: "I've never been one to put myself on a moral high ground. I am full of mistakes like anyone else."
Mr Broad's domestic flights from Mildura to Melbourne were taxpayer funded but the Victorian MP paid for his international travel to Hong Kong.
He told The New Daily he was willing to repay the domestic flights.
Explicit texts between Mr Broad and "sugar baby" Amy, a "blonde beauty" who goes by the online alias of "Sweet Sophia Rose", emerged yesterday, including that that he had boasted to her about knowing how to "fly a plane, ride a horse, and f--- my woman".
In another message, he said he had "booked a flashy room" to seduce her back to, despite the woman's profile noting that she would not be intimate on dates.
The Herald Sun reports at least three women have contacted the National Party in the past year with allegations about sleazy behaviour by Mr Broad.
Senior Nationals told the publication they feared the "sugar baby" incident was the "tip of the iceberg".
The Herald Sun also reports Mr Broad had told colleagues the woman he met through a "seeking arrangement" website tried to extort him for $8000 by threatening to sell her story.
He referred the matter to the AFP on November 8.
After assessing it, the AFP found "no applicable offences under Australian law".
It is the second sex scandal to rock the Nationals this year after a married Barnaby Joyce was forced to resign as party leader following revelations he was expecting a child with a former staffer.