Seriously, is this what we pay you for?

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Embroilment in one sexting scandal may be regarded as misfortune, but embroilment in several looks like carelessness.

One would apologise to Oscar Wilde for the misappropriation, except the Andrew Broad scandal moved beyond satire on Tuesday, when it was reported that the National Party had known for a year that the married MP for Mallee was reportedly trawling dating apps, all while defending the institution of marriage against the homosexual hordes.

Disgraced Nationals MP Andrew Broad and Sweet Sophia Rose, aka Amy.

Disgraced Nationals MP Andrew Broad and Sweet Sophia Rose, aka Amy.

Events took a positively Python-esque turn when Nationals leader Michael McCormack finally woke from his slumber on Tuesday to insist Broad “consider his future”, while insisting the Nationals did not have a woman problem because “both the women in my party” were ministers.

That’s two parliamentarians out of 22 - barely enough to constitute a ping-pong team.

After the political year we’ve had - from Barnaby Joyce and the bonking ban, to the coup and the reported bullying of women in Parliament, via the slut-shaming of senators and the Prime Ministerial innuendo about celebrity Pamela Anderson - well you just have to laugh, don’t you.

Except now the laughter has a hysterical edge because seriously … seriously guys? This is what we pay you for? To use taxpayer funds (in part) to travel to Hong Kong and then wine and dine a woman you met on a sugar daddy website? A woman who you are literally paying to be with, and yet your ego is so fragile that you must impress upon her what a big shot you are by letting her know you can fly a plane? Only to have her rebuff you, then later you ‘fess up to your leader. Still later when you finally announce you will quit.

Illustration: Matt Golding

Illustration: Matt Golding Credit:

Even more astonishing, solely from a political leadership point of view, is that McCormack did not act at that point to pre-empt a situation that had the major potential to blow up in the still-blushing face of the party, which now vies for the political entity that has most disgraced itself in a blockbuster year.

Nationals MPs and some members of the press gallery have known about Broad’s reputation for years, it has emerged.

There are rumours of dirt files, and then this year he was found on the dating app Tinder, although Broad vehemently denied it was him.

But Parliament House is full of scuttlebutt, so when should a leader act?

Certainly before it becomes a reputational hazard, not just for the person involved, but for the entire party, particularly if that party prides itself on old-fashioned family values.

Nothing will fuel voter rejectionalism more than political sleaze, except maybe taxpayer-funded political sleaze. The government has a good story to tell on economic management. But when voters are wrinkling their noses in disgust at you, you can be sure they’re not listening.

Twitter: @JacquelineMaley