Politics

A Nationals Staffer Called A Journalist A “C***” And Wished Cancer Upon Her Family

They say he meant to send the abusive texts to someone else.

Nationals Leader Michael McCormack refuses to sack staffer who sent abusive texts to journalist.

While Nationals MP Andrew Broad was embroiled in his g’day-mate-gate drama today, his party was also facing another scandal. Specifically, the Nationals are refusing to fire a staffer who sent a journalist an abusive text message calling her a “feminist cunt”, arguing instead that the message was sent to the wrong person.

Last weekend, News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst received a series of texts from a staffer working for LNP senator Barry O’Sullivan. Those messages reportedly included a wish that Smethurst’s family would die “of painful cancer”, as well as the words “bitch”, “feminist cunt” and other abusive language.

Smethurst received an apology for the texts on Friday, five days after they were sent, and yesterday news broke that the staffer responsible for the the texts had been placed on “indefinite leave”. The Nationals have so far refused to fire the staffer over the incident, however, because they reckon the abusive, extraordinarily inappropriate messages were not meant to be sent to Smethurst.

“The text was very inappropriate in any circumstances, in any context, but the fact is that it was sent to the wrong person,” Nationals leader Michael McCormack said today on Today, which, uh, didn’t fly.

As interviewer Deborah Knight put it, “but regardless — I mean, if this person is a government staffer and holds these sorts of views they have no place in the Parliament, do they?”

“Well the fact is, we’re providing counselling for the staffer, he’s been placed on indefinite leave, and whether or not he returns to the Parliament, that’s a matter for us to see in the future.”

And as for the wrong person excuse, it’s worth pointing out that the texts were sent to Smethurst just days after Smethurst wrote a story criticising Barry O’Sullivan, the MP the author of the text messages worked for.

All in all, a pretty rubbish few days for the National party’s reputation for its treatment of women. A fitting end to a pretty rubbish year for the National party altogether, to be honest.