Senator Sam McMahon has denied allegations she was drunk on the floor of the Senate chamber Tuesday night, issuing a statement from an unnamed “spokesman” who criticised the claims for being from unnamed sources.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported last night that at least 10 senate colleagues from all political stripes said Ms McMahon had appeared to be “maggoted” and “off her head” during Tuesday night’s sittings, which they attributed to “heavy” alcohol consumption.
But the Senator’s office issued a statement denying the allegations, which the unnamed “spokesman” for the Senator said were “the height of cowardice” because they were made by unnamed sources.
“A number of off the record allegations with no names attached is the height of cowardice,” the release by the unnamed “spokesman” stated.
“I personally assisted Senator McMahon.”
But no name was provided for the “spokesman” who “personally assisted” the Senator in the statement that was critical of unnamed sources.
Ms McMahon controversially hired former NT Cattlemen’s Association boss Ashley Manicaros in April, but it was unclear if he was the unnamed saviour who assisted Ms McMahon during the unpleasantness.
“This is part of a political machine manufacturing any reason to dislodge Senator McMahon before preselection – even fictional ones,” the statement continued.
“She had a drink with her Nationals colleagues in the early evening. The video in the Senate was taken hours later when she began feeling ill.”
Video from the Senate chamber showed Ms McMahon receiving assistance from colleagues Bridgette McKenzie and Perin Davey as she made her way to the exit with some difficulty around 10:45pm.
She was later granted a pair so her absence would not affect voting numbers.
She originally told the SMH that she had received “sad personal news” which contributed to her state, but there was no mention of that in the official statement.
It was also not disclosed what illness Ms McMahon was reportedly suffering from.
Barnaby cancels trip to Darwin to support Nats colleague Sam McMahon after her role in leadership spill
Ms McMahon reportedly played a key role in the Nationals leadership spill earlier this week that saw Michael McCormack rolled by former leader Barnaby Joyce.
Canberra political insiders suggested Ms McMahon’s future in the Nationals parliamentary wing contributed to the spill after colleagues criticised Mr McCormack for not doing enough to support her preselection contest this weekend in Darwin.
Mr Joyce was expected to be attending this weekend’s CLP central council meeting to support Ms McMahon in the hotly contested preselection race for the CLP senate ticket, but cancelled the trip on Thursday, citing COVID-19 concerns.
Ms McMahon is expected to be challenged by Alice Springs councillor Jacinta Price, the CLP Opposition leader’s chief of staff Tim Dixon and long-time public servant Linda Fazldeen.
Ms McMahon sits with the Nationals in Canberra, but CLP members can sit with the Liberals if they choose, which would change the current dynamic in the Coalition Government if Ms McMahon loses preselection.
The allegations of intoxication are not the first time Ms McMahon has been embroiled in controversy.
As first reported in the NT Independent, Ms McMahon was investigated by the CLP in June of last year following reports of “serious misconduct and physical altercations” with a staff member.
The investigation eventually led to Ms McMahon’s chief of staff Jason Riley resigning, although details of the incident were never made public.