The 51-year-old married dad of two stepped aside from his two committee roles after he was outed last week for having an affair and texting his mistress pornographic photos. The allegations against the Redlands Liberal National Party MP were made in a letter by his former mistress to Speaker Fiona Simpson. And The Courier-Mail says it has seen explicit messages, including pictures of a penis plonked in a glass of red wine – accompanied by the words: “He wanted a red wine.” Other images allegedly include a selfie of Dowling’s crotch while wearing boxers, and a full frontal shot of his genitalia.  

Last week, Dowling, who has been married for 27 years, stood before his fellow lawmakers to offer a mea culpa. “I owe my family an apology. I am sorry for the pain and embarrassment I caused you,” he said. “I am not proud of the events plastered all over the paper. I can’t and won’t defend any part of it.”

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Dowling has also been accused of taking advantage of parliamentary travel trips to meet his mistress in locations including Perth and New Zealand, accepting more than AU$20k (£11,500) in free upgraded flights. However, he denied he had violated any disclosure rules, but would still stand down as chair of the ethics committee – which handles complaints about the behaviour of the state’s politicians – and from the parliamentary crime and misconduct committee until an investigation into his travel is complete.“

In relation to the allegations made to the use of travel allowances, I can assure the House that I have complied fully with all the guidelines and requirements of the parliament,” he said in parliament. “However, I do not wish for this issue and for my family to be dragged through the media any longer than necessary. I will answer any questions, front any investigation. I don’t want pity. I only ask that my family be left alone while this matter is considered by the clerk.”

Whether or not Dowling was thinking of his family’s wellbeing during the alleged two-year affair is unclear. The woman, who asked not to be named, detailed how the couple repeatedly used his parliamentary annex bedsit and electorate office for sex, saying she “enjoyed the people’s money” when they went on official trips together.

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“I enjoyed the people’s money too when I stayed in the hotel rooms,” she told Nine Network. “I enjoyed the perks [at the expense] of the Australian taxpayers because I was in the hotels with him.” She also said they had sex in Dowling’s Redlands electorate office, and even in Parliament House, on numerous occasions. “I would go and visit Parliament House and we’d go to his office,” she said. “And have sex, yes. Twice I stayed overnight in Parliament House.” His mistress said she thought she had a future with Dowling, but she now understands the serious consequences of their affair.

However, it seems Dowling isn’t alone with his penchant for dirty SMSing. Research released last week shows one in five teenagers and almost a third of adults in Australia have received a sext. Dating website suggested a higher rate – at least among singletons – with 57 per cent of its female members admitting to sending an explicit multimedia message and 24.3 per cent of men. It also said 31 per cent of its members aged over 50 had sent a sext. Here’s our other top three political sexters.

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Anthony Weiner

With his rather apt name, Anthony ‘I’ll show you mine’ Weiner has been caught sexting not once, but twice – with the first sexting scandal dubbed Weinergate. It happened in 2011 when, using his public Twitter account, Weiner sent a link to a photo of his erect penis, concealed by boxers, to a 21-year-old female college student. After a huge furore, married father-of-two Weiner resigned from Congress.

This year, he announced his return to politics as a candidate for mayor of New York City. Following this were claims of more sexting, forcing Weiner to admit sending sexy messages to three women in the past year. He’s brazenly refused to leave the mayoral race.

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Joe Stagni

Joe Stagni “asked for god’s mercy and forgiveness” when he was caught sending inappropriate texts to a woman other than his wife in 2011. The sleazy image of the married Kenner City Councilman, from Louisiana, in his underwear was sent to a colleague he was having an affair with, accompanied by the oddly serious message: “I’m n trouble-serious conversation wwife [sic].”

She forwarded it to another colleague’s email, and it found its way on to the council’s official computer system. Surprisingly, Stagni kept his job, and his wife.

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Christopher Lee

With his bicep flexed, New York Republican Christopher Lee obviously chose his bare-chested sext image carefully before sending it to a woman he’d met on Craigslist. After some digging around, the recipient realised Lee’s true identity and went public. In 2011, the dad of one resigned from Congress after it was revealed not only did he send the photo, but that he lied to the woman about his marital status and his age – oddly, saying he was 39, not 46.