Australia

Andrew Broad: Australian minister quits amid 'sugar baby' allegations

Andrew Broad speaks to reporters about an unrelated matter Image copyright ABC
Image caption Australian MP Andrew Broad will remain on the backbench

An Australian government minister has resigned from his position over allegations of inappropriate conduct.

Andrew Broad, a junior minister, used a "sugar baby" website to meet a woman for dinner in Hong Kong last month, Australian magazine New Idea reported.

The government said Mr Broad had quit "due to the nature of the allegations" against him, but did not elaborate.

Mr Broad told the magazine that "the person making the allegation may have engaged in criminal activity".

His office did not comment further on Monday. The married MP had been assistant minister to Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack since September.

The scandal overshadowed Prime Minister Scott Morrison's end-of-year budget update on Monday, which showed national debt was being reduced faster than expected.

Funds question

New Idea published allegations from a woman named Amy, who said she had received sexually explicit messages from Mr Broad.

She also said that Mr Broad had put her hand on his leg during their alleged dinner in Hong Kong, prompting her to excuse herself from the table.

They had reportedly met via an online service that connects so-called "sugar babies" with "sugar daddies" - younger people with older men.

Mr McCormack said he could not say whether Mr Broad had used taxpayer funds during the meeting.

"I don't believe so, but that is a question you will have to put to Mr Broad," he told reporters.

The deputy prime minister also said Mr Broad had reported the allegation that the woman was involved in criminal activity to the police.

"They will uncover if there has been impropriety done," Mr McCormack said, adding that the issue was "an unnecessary distraction" for the government.

Mr Broad will remain in parliament on the backbench.

Australia is expected to hold a general election in May. Mr Morrison's government has consistently trailed the Labor opposition in opinion polls over the past year.

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