Australians don’t do political sex scandals terribly well. Perhaps it’s because Australia is a very secular society, and a good dose of Protestant prurience or Catholic guilt helps – Berlusconi’s strippers dressed as nuns. And while not a classless society, few of our children spend their formative years in boarding schools under the rule of Matron, like the children of the British elite. As for the French, in My Fair Lady Henry Higgins said that ‘The French don’t care what they do, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly’ – but even they seem finally to be taking Dominique Strauss-Kahn seriously.
Our current scandal involving the Speaker, Peter Slipper, rates a bit higher than usual, though it hardly scales the heights of Monica Lewinsky, John Edwards or most of the poor fools outed by News of the World over the years. It is unusual though, because it (allegedly) involves homosexual, not heterosexual, activity, and because, since the numbers in the House of Representatives are so tight, it might actually bring down a government.
In the 19th century, Australian politics had its fair share of sexual hanky panky, but I can’t think of any that brought down an administration. So here, for your delectation and delight, are 5 sex scandals that didn’t make a blind bit of difference to the stability of government. Continue reading