The swift and brutal plummet of Barnaby Joyce — from Deputy Prime Minister, to Nationals backbencher, to becoming the poster boy for large adult men who should really know better — has certainly been something to watch.
It will go down as one of the biggest political scandals of 2018: Joyce had an affair with a staffer, got her pregnant, left his wife and four daughters and stepped down as leader of the Nationals.Â Then, finally, when it all appeared to be dying down and the public had well and truly moved on, he agreed to be interviewed along with his partner Vikki Campion for the tidy sum of $150,000.
But while it will absolutely be the biggest and most salacious scandal of 2018 (short of, say, Malcolm Turnbull running away with Pauline Hanson), it will hardly be the biggest of all time. In fact, it could probably just about scrape a top ten position.
If your knowledge of salacious Australian political scandals needs a bit of a refresher, then you’ve come to the right place (or rather, clicked on the right link).
When former Liberal Party leader Sir Billy Snedden died of a heart attack on June 27, 1987, he was found naked in a room in the Rushcutter’s Bay Travelodge in Sydney, wearing naught but a condom.
His lover fled the scene, seemingly to avoid being involved in a political scandal. Rumours about who she was swirled for decades, until his son, Drew Snedden, revealed in 2006 that the woman had been his ex-girlfriend, who became involved with his father.
“On the night he died he’d just been welcomed back into the Liberal Party and he was at his political best,” the younger Mr Snedden told the Herald-Sun.
“It was an adrenaline-filled evening. I’m sure the old man went out happy — anyone would be proud to die on the job.”
The year was 1986, and the former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser was walking in Memphis without his pants on.
He had been a guest speaker at the Memphis Country Club in Tennessee, and popped out afterwards to take in the blues and have a drink at the luxury Peabody Hotel. Shortly after midnight, he checked into a nearby hotel under the name “John Jones”, waving a $100 bill as payment.
The next morning, he wandered into the lobby wrapped in a towel, having lost his pants, wallet, passport, $600 in cash and his $10,000 Rolex.
Exactly what happened never transpired, but the going theory is that Fraser was drugged by a blonde woman who was preying on wealthy Memphis businessmen at the time.
“There’s nothing I can say,” he told a Sydney paper shortly after the event. “I wish I’d never been to bloody Memphis.”
When Prime Minister John Gorton appointed 22-year-old young gun Ainsley Gotto to run his office, eyebrows were raised. The mostly male press assumed the beautiful young staffer must be romantically involved, and were happy to make all sort of insinuations about their lives.
But Gotto was also highly competent, going on to work for several other senior ministers before leaving political life, running several businesses, embarking on a career as a television presenter and heading a non-for-profit organisation of female entrepreneurs.
It didn’t save her from the blatant sexism of 1960s political life, however. Prior to working for Gorton, she had worked for the Minister for Air, Dudley Erwin. When Erwin was left out of Gorton’s ministry during a reshuffle, he famously gave the media this explanation why:
“It wiggles, it’s shapely, and it’s name is Ainsley Gotto.”
In 1974, Deputy Prime Minister Jim Cairns appointed Junie Morosi has his private secretary. The pair were the subject of much tabloid gossip and rumour, and questions that Cairns was distracted from political responsibilities — not to mention claims that the then-Attorney-General, Lionel Murphy, had given her favourable access to public housing — ran rampant.
But it wasn’t until some 28 years later, in 2002, that Cairns admitted to a sexual affair. When asked by ABC Radio why he hadn’t admitted it before, he replied: “Because nobody asked if I’d been to bed with her.”
Fast-forward to 2018, and Morosi is slamming the media for its “puritanical” reporting over the Joyce saga, telling The Australian: “[The misuse of funds is]Â almost an aside â€” what theyâ€™re focusing on is the fact that he is in a relationship with a woman who works there. I really think itâ€™s irrelevant to his job. I think the man should be seen for who he is in politics; if that is found wanting â€” well, thatâ€™s a different story.â€ť
This is hardly his most serious offence but it certainly dominated the headlines for a few weeks: during the height of the Jamie Briggs scandal in 2016, Dutton assured his Liberal Party colleague via text that journalist Samantha Maiden was a “mad f***ing witch.”
Unfortunately, he texted that message to Maiden herself. It was on the front page of the Daily Telegraph the following morning.
Briggs later resigned over an inappropriate ‘incident’ with a female staffer in Hong Kong, while Dutton got promoted. Go figure.