Victorian MP Steve Herbert is holding onto his job like a dog with a bone after it was revealed that he used his taxpayer-funded car to ferry his two dogs between his country property in Trentham and his residence in Parkdale. The Corrections Minister, who also forgot to declare the Trentham property, has made it through one day of question time on Spring Street, but it will be only a matter of time before Premier Daniel Andrews sends him to the naughty corner. Herbert will find himself on the backbench and among an illustrious list of Australian politicians who have lost their jobs over such measly indiscretions that they will barely rate a mention in the history books.
This is not a list for the Bronwyn Bishops or the Jamie Briggs of the world, those who were forced to resign over legitimately bad rorts. This is the list for the doggie chauffeurs, the Paddington Bears and the scandals that are blown way out of proportion.
The Victorian Corrections Minister has gone through three drivers in the last two years and is accused of using them to ferry his dogs between his house in Trentham (now revealed as his principal place of residence) and his house in Parkdale, which is actually in his electorate. The Herald Sun, which broke the story, reports that Herbert also asked drivers to take the dogs, named Patch and Ted, for walks. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell: “It’s extraordinary, I’m amazed that he is still there, but it seems an extraordinary thing to do.”
The bottle of Grange
Bottles of wine can prove dangerous for Australian MPs, and it was a fine bottle of Grange that toppled former NSW premier Barry O’Farrell. The Liberal premier was forced to shuffle off after admitting that he had lied to the Independent Commission Against Corruption over the $3000 bottle given to him by Australian Water Holding’s Nick Di Girolamo. It was a significant gift, and having a “massive memory fail” at ICAC isn’t a good look, but in the context of the scale of corruption uncovered by ICAC, it was just a drop in the ocean of Grange.
Done his Dasher
In more recent times, Labor’s “junior senator from NSW” Sam Dastyari was also pushed to the backbench after it was revealed that a Chinese businessman had paid his $1670 bill for travel expense over his office’s allowance. After days of dodging the scandal, Dastyari fell on his sword, but it won’t be the last we hear from him.
The Paddington Bear scandal
In 1984 ALP special minister of state Mick Young was forced to stand down after the Paddington Bear scandal.
On the 5 July Young took an international flight into Australia landing at Adelaide airport, where he indicated on his Customs form that he had nothing to declare. However, much to the scorn and dismay of airport officials, it was discovered he had a Paddington Bear in his luggage. The soft toy in question was purchased as a gift for his wife, Mary, and sister-in-law Laurel Hughes.
The bear cost Young $1903 and his career.
Colour him sacked
In 1982 Michael MacKellar of the Fraser government along with then customs minister John Moore were forced to stand down after MacKellar falsely declared to Customs that a TV he had brought into the country was black and white.
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It was later exposed that the offending TV was in fact colour, throwing the ALP into crisis mode. MacKellar stood down for had failing to declare the TV’s colour capacity and Moore stepped down for handling the disaster clumsily.
The sandwich shop scandal
In 1993 ALP minister for industry, technology and regional development Alan Griffiths was sacked over suspicions of misconduct involving sandwich shop.
It was alleged that a sandwich shop he owned was going broke and that he had used Labor money to bail it out. The allegations were later disproved and dropped following an investigation, but the ALP asked him to step down anyway.