The controversy over his son’s use of his ministerial phone card in 2000 caused the Howard government minister Peter Reith to be attacked and ridiculed.
Reith was not sacked for the misuse of his phone card but he did repay $50,000.
Reith had been Minister for Workplace Relations since the Howard government took office in 1996. In January 2001, Reith became Minister for Defence. He retired from politics at the 2001 election, although his role in the Children Overboard affair during the election campaign ensured that he remained a controversial figure.