Crikey’s investigation into the rumored affair between Sir Robert Menzies and Betty Fairfax over the past week has unearthed a fresh allegation of another Prime Ministerial philandering from an unexpected quarter.

Bob Hulands is a former Commonwealth policeman who worked at The Lodge between March 1967 and September 1969, while John Gorton was Prime Minister.

Throughout this period, according to Hulands, the married PM was a frequent caller at the nearby home of the widow of a very senior knighted Naval officer:

John Gorton had terminal ugliness resulting from his face colliding with the instrument panel of a Spitfire Plane when he crash landed during WW2, but he was an articulate chap who enjoyed a drink and the ladies loved him. His wife was an American who always seemed to be unhappy and you seldom saw them together…

At The Lodge there were two entrances — the main one on the avenue and the back one. There was a large police office at the front gate and a small post at the rear gate. [The widow] lived one street back from the rear of The Lodge and Gorton would sneak out the back gate, usually in the mid afternoon, saying to the Commonwealth police officer on duty “if my wife is looking for me, tell her that you haven’t seen me. OK” and then walk briskly away in the direction of the house of the widow.

The officer would then ring Sgt Derek Sharp and advise him that the PM was on the “prowl” and Sharp would then get in the escort car and proceed to the widow’s residence and park across the street. When Gorton emerged from the House, he would acknowledge Sharp and proceed to walk back to The Lodge followed a discreet distance by the Escort Car.

I don’t know how long it went on for because I left in late 1969 and joined the NT Police.

Hulands says the affair was “common knowledge” at the time — and he had discussed it with Sgt Sharp, a family friend who followed the PM on his trysts.

But Crikey was unable to track down Sharp and as Hulands didn’t personally see where the PM went his account is based largely on hearsay. 

After all, Gorton might have just been taking in some fresh Canberra air.

Peter Fray

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