Pollies behaving badly: The shocking scandals that have rocked Canberra

From extra-marital affairs, to vanishing trousers and more, Australian politics has seen its fair share of scandal. Source: Getty.

As pollies bickered over the rate of Newstart, foreign fighters and Angus Taylor’s links to his family’s farming companies in the Lower House this week, their words were somewhat eclipsed by a far more shocking political event as a Labor MP found himself at the centre of a police investigation.

Victorian state politician Will Fowles was escorted from the Abode Kingston hotel and questioned by ACT officers on Thursday morning after he launched into a violent fit of rage, smashing a door as he argued with staff over access to his luggage.

While no charges have currently been laid against Fowles, the 42-year-old, who was elected to the Victorian Legislative Assembly in November 2018, released a statement following the incident admitting he was “deeply ashamed” of his actions.

“While there are reasons for it, there are no excuses,” he said. “I have, for a long time, been dealing with addiction and other mental health issues. Medication I take was in my luggage, which was locked in a room that I was not able to access, as no staff were on-site.”

While Fowles is the latest Australian pollie to command headlines with his antics, he is far from the first to do so. Here’s a look at some of the other politicians who have been caught behaving badly on the taxpayer’s dollar in recent years.

Barnababy and the bonking ban

Before news of his affair broke, Barnaby Joyce was flying high as deputy prime minister and leader of the National Party of Australia, but all of that came to an abrupt end when it was revealed that he had been bonking former staffer Vikki Campion behind the back of his wife Natalie.

Joyce announced his resignation in February 2018 following weeks of pressure, after The Daily Telegraph exclusively revealed that Campion was pregnant with the pollie’s child when they printed an image of the heavily pregnant then-33-year-old on the front page of the newspaper.

“It’s absolutely important that there be a circuit breaker not only for the parliament but a circuit breaker for Vikki, for my unborn child, for my daughters and for Nat,” he said at the time. “I think it’s gotta stop for the poor buggers who’re parked outside my house every day, they’ve gotta go home.”

Campion and Joyce have defied the odds to remain together though and are now parents to two young sons, one-year-old Sebastian Curtis Scott Joyce and Thomas Michael Timothy Joyce who was born last month.

The backbench MP’s ex-wife Natalie has maintained her dignity throughout the scandal, rarely speaking out about the personal issue, with the couple’s four daughters also remaining tight-lipped on their father’s new lover and their new half brothers.

The Blanche affair

Before Joyce’s extra-marital affairs became the talk of the nation though, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke set tongues wagging when news of his affair with his would-be second wife Blanche d’Alpuget emerged in 1991.

The news rocked the country as the late politician, who passed away in May this year at the age of 89, was married to Hazel Hawke at the time, with the couple sharing four children together. However it soon transpired that Hawke and writer Blanche had been meeting up in secret for close to two decades.

Despite the furore surrounding the affair at the time, Bob and Blanche went on to tie the knot in 1995 and remained married until the popular former leader’s death just two months ago, with Blanche delivering an emotional eulogy at his public memorial service.

“Friends, thank you for coming today to honour the life of a wonderful man, for weeks ago there was national outpouring of grief when Australia learned Bob Hawke had died,” she said at the service, which took place at Sydney’s Opera House.

“That grief has continued until today. Today this memorial service marks the transition from the grief of loss to the celebration of a life triumphantly well lived.

“With today’s transformative service we smile again, we glow with pride for the presence among us for almost 90 years of a great human being.”
Read more: Blanche d’Alpuget says Bob Hawke ‘was ready to die’ in emotional TV interview

Goodbye Steve Dickson

April 2019 was a bad month for former One Nation state leader Steve Dickson, as footage aired by the ABC as part of Al-Jazeera documentary How To Sell a Massacre showed the married pollie seemingly compromising himself both professionally and personally.

The 56-year-old former Queensland leader announced his resignation that month, following weeks of backlash over the footage which showed Dickson – alongside Pauline Hanson’s Chief of Staff James Ashby – apparently lobbying for cash donations from the National Rifle Association of America (NRA).

Dickson was also caught on hidden camera – in footage aired by Channel Nine’s A Current Affair program – making lewd comments and groping women as he enjoyed a night out at a Washington DC strip club with undercover reporter Rodger Muller in 2018.

The footage – which was originally recorded as part of the Al-Jazeera doco – showed Dickson putting notes into the bra and underwear of one dancer who joined him at a table, before telling the woman to touch his genitals. He was also shown approaching the woman as she performed on stage, once again putting more dollar bills in her underwear.

“I’m going to give her my address,” he could then be heard telling Muller. “Mate she said she will come over and *** me. She’s keen I think. I’ve asked her, she said she wants to come home and suck my ****.”

Malcolm Fraser’s mysterious missing trousers

While he spent eight years as prime minister, Malcolm Fraser may be better remembered for a notorious incident involving the mysterious disappearance of his pants in a US hotel.

The former PM made headlines across the world when he turned up disorientated, wrapped in nothing but a towel, in the lobby of a Memphis motel in 1986, complaining that he’d lost his $10,000 Rolex watch, passport, wallet, $600 cash and, of course, his trousers, having checked into the hotel just after midnight the evening prior.

He also allegedly believed that someone had spiked his drink, adding: “I had no sense of balance that day, which I had never experienced before.”

Keeping it in the family

“Any man would be happy to die on the job”, those were the words uttered by the son of Sir Billy Snedden, discussing his father’s sudden death which occurred when the pollie was having sex with his son’s former lover.

Snedden died after suffering a heart attack at the Rushcutter’s Bay Travelodge in June 1987. According to police reports at the time, the Liberal pollie was found wearing a condom, however his companion reportedly flew the scene to avoid becoming embroiled in a scandal.

However it later emerged that the woman – whose identity remains unknown – was a former secretary, who had also been in a relationship with Snedden’s son Drew at some point.

“It was an adrenalin-filled evening.

“I’m sure the old man went out happy – anyone would be proud to die on the job.”

Can you remember these scandals? Which do you find most shocking?

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