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Under-fire Nationals MP won't seek re-election

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Federal government MP Andrew Broad will not contest the next election after it was revealed he travelled to Hong Kong to meet with a younger woman he met online.

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Broad resigned as assistant minister to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack on Monday, after New Idea magazine published an article with alleged details of the meeting.

The Nationals MP also agreed today to repay two taxpayer-funded domestic flights involved in the trip.

He will immediately cough up $479.62 for the flights between Mildura in his northern Victorian electorate of Mallee and Melbourne in September.

The development comes after McCormack said Broad had let down Australians and should “consider his future”.

A woman, named as “Amy”, claimed she met the married 43-year-old in Hong Kong in November for dinner and Broad told her he was there for a “conference” but “shouldn’t have been here at all”.

The woman also claimed Broad lied about his age, sent her numerous text messages that turned to a “more sexual nature” following the dinner and compared himself to “James Bond”.

The MP has since told The New Daily he was in Hong Kong for a fruit and vegetable trade show, linked to his electoral work, in early September rather than November as the New Idea story suggested.

He said he paid for the international travel and accommodation but would be willing to return money for domestic flights claimed.

Broad’s parliamentary expenses record shows he travelled from Mildura to Melbourne on September 2 and from Melbourne to Mildura on September 7, with each flight costing taxpayers $239.81.

AAP has since confirmed the MP will repay the funds immediately.

Broad said he was not one to “put myself on a moral high ground” because he made “mistakes” like anyone else.

“Government is imperfect people governing imperfect people,” he said.

McCormack said on Monday he had known about the matter for a couple of weeks and had urged Broad to report it to the Australian Federal Police.

But the AFP said had received Broad’s referral on November 8, six weeks earlier, and after assessing it, found “no applicable offences under Australian law”.

The deputy prime minister now says he thought a couple of weeks ago was “approximately” the time of the call, and that he had been told by Broad his trip to Hong Kong was simply a personal one.

He didn’t tell Prime Minister Scott Morrison about it because he thought it was a matter for Broad’s family.

McCormack said wants his MPs to focus on better services and infrastructure for regional Australians and lower taxes and power costs.

“They’re the sorts of things I want my members focused on, not on the sorts of things we’ve seen uncovered in magazine articles in the last 24 hours,” he told reporters today.

Meanwhile, the Herald-Sun on Tuesday cited unnamed “senior Nationals” saying they feared the allegations could be the “tip of the iceberg” for Broad, claiming at least three women had contacted the party in the past year.

These women made separate claims of “dalliances” with Broad, dating back to 2015, the news outlet reported.

McCormack said he hadn’t heard of theses allegations until Tuesday.

– AAP

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