But the incoming Deputy Prime Minister once had his own career-threatening scandal to overcome.
In 1993, the 53-year-old was editor of daily NSW newspaper, The Daily Advertiser. (His appointment in 1991 at age 27, made him the youngest daily newspaper editor in Australian history at the time.) It was in this position that he chose to write a homophobic editorial blaming homosexuals for the spread of AIDS and criticising gay pride marches.
Michael McCormack was chosen as leader, but first someone suprising put their hat in the ring. Post continues.
“A week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society,” he opened the article.
“Unfortunately, gays are here and, if the disease their unnatural acts helped spread doesn’t wipe out humanity, they’re here to stay.”
He continued to say it was up to newspapers to act as “watchdogs on moral issues” such as gay rights.
If anyone reading this is wondering if it was acceptable to openly bash gay people in 1993, it wasn’t. The newspaper received backlash and McCormack apologised in a follow-up article.
However, the column threatened to destroy his political career before it even began when it was dug up ahead of the 2010 election he was running in. His statement that he had apologised and “moved on” seemed to end the discussions at the time, but in August last year when the story once again emerged during same-sex marriage plebiscite discussion a better apology was required.