Tuesday 20 August 2019

Irish woman at the centre of 'G'day Mate' scandal engulfing Australian government

Resigned: Andrew Broad and wife Rachel
Resigned: Andrew Broad and wife Rachel
Jane Last

Jane Last

A young Dublin woman has found herself at the centre of a political scandal in Australia, which has seen one minister resign and threatens to derail the government.

Dubbed the 'G'day Mate' scandal, it started when Australian minister Andrew Broad - who has since resigned from his position and has announced he won't stand at the next election - made contact through a website with an Irish woman in her 20s.

It's understood the woman - who is from Dublin - resides in Hong Kong and Mr Broad first contacted her in September.

The first few messages - sent through WhatsApp - seemed to be harmless enough.

Mr Broad - a Nationals Party MP who was assistant minister to Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and his party leader Michael McCormack - told the Dubliner he "just got a big promotion at work".

After she congratulated him, he sent her an image of him on television, with the message: "Yeah I kinda got a big job now."

He compared himself to James Bond in later texts, telling her he knew "how to ride a horse, fly a plane and f*** my woman".

He also talked about kissing her neck as he whispered 'G'day mate' to her.

In November, it's believed the pair met for dinner in Hong Kong, where Mr Broad was reportedly attending a conference.

However, it's understood the young woman said she felt uncomfortable during the meeting, and decided to leave early.

Australian media were reporting on text messages the woman allegedly sent Mr Broad requesting money after the date.

Mr Broad is then believed to have approached his party leader Mr McCormack, telling him what had happened.

The 'Sydney Morning Herald' reported that Mr McCormack had advised him to contact police in Australia about the matter.

The police are said to have advised they had no jurisdiction in the matter.

On December 17, Australian magazine 'New Idea' published the WhatsApp messages from Mr Broad to the Irish woman.

The magazine published an interview with her, in which it only referred to her by her first name.

She talked about meeting Mr Broad at an upmarket restaurant in Hong Kong, how he placed his hand on her knee a number of times and was several years older than he had told her.

She told the magazine that she opted to leave the restaurant, as she felt "uncomfortable".

Mr Broad resigned from the front bench after the interview was published.

In a statement, he said that "after recent media stories about my private life" voters in his rural electorate in the state of Victoria would be better served by another National Party politician.

He said that he had let his family, his staff and his party down.

Yesterday, the 'Sydney Morning Herald' reported that the office of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was made aware of these allegations in early December, but it is not clear when Mr Morrison was informed.

Mr McCormack has since confirmed that he knew of the meetings and the allegations made by the young woman in early November, and also confirmed that he rejected Mr Broad's offer to resign at the time.

The fall-out from the controversy continues with more questions being asked of who knew what, and when, in a scandal that is threatening to derail the Australian government.

Irish Independent

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