Current Affairs

Former Australian PM was not gay says wife

Gemma Pritchard October 30, 2007
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The widow of former Australian Prime Minister Sir William McMahon has said claims that her husband was gay are “outrageous.”

For a brief period in the 1970’s Sonia McMahon was thrust into the spotlight as the spouse of one of Australia’s shortest-serving Prime Ministers.

Lady McMahon agreed to speak to author Susan Mitchell while she was writing her new book, Stand By Your Man, which profiles the wives of three Australian Liberal prime ministers: McMahon, Fraser and Howard.

Her husband was Prime Minister between 1971-1972.

In the book Mitchell claims that Sir William was gay and his 23-year marriage to Sonia was a sham.

Lady McMahon, 75, told Australian Women’s Weekly: “Yes, I’m angry about what Susan has written, but most of all, I’m hurt.

“Anyone who says he was homosexual is talking tripe. I can tell you that he was a loving man, a true romantic.”

She said that the book portrays McMahon as a short, bald, aging, deaf, big-eared, eccentric, paranoid fantasist with a rather effeminate manner.

She added: “Bill was a terrific husband in every way and a great dad. Before me, he went out with a lot of women.

“He was a workaholic and could be a little lax in the wooing department, but he was heterosexual.”

Since his death, she says, nobody has taken his place in her heart.

“The gay business,” she says, was started by Sir William’s nemesis, Labour leader Gough Whitlam, a political attack brought on when Sir William defied convention and wore suede shoes in Parliament.

“Bill was a sophisticated, cultured and fashion-conscious man,” says Sonia.

“I think sometimes if someone doesn’t conform to an ocker-macho stereotype, they get branded as being homosexual. That’s so silly.”

(An ocker is a stereotype, a boorish, uncultivated Australian working male).

The couple married in 1965, when Sir William was 57 and Sonia was 32.

They had three children, one of whom is Nip/Tuck star Julian McMahon.

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