Education Minister Alan Tudge has stood aside from his ministerial portfolio after former political staffer Rachelle Miller made new allegations against him on Thursday.
At a news conference at parliament house, Rachelle Miller alleged that Tudge was emotionally abusive and on one occasion, physically abusive towards her during their consensual relationship. Tudge has denied these allegations.
Last year, Miller revealed that she and Tudge had been in a consensual relationship, while she worked as his press secretary in 2017.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament today that in light of Miller’s new allegations against Tudge, he has asked the Minister to step aside while an investigation is carried out.
“These issues are obviously deeply concerning, and I know deeply distressing, for Ms Miller, Minister Tudge and the families affected by these events,” Morrison said.
“I have discussed Ms Miller’s statement with Mr Tudge, who refuted the allegations made. Given the seriousness of the claims made by Ms Miller, it’s important these matters be resolved fairly and expeditiously.
“To this end, the minister has agreed to my request to stand aside while these issues are addressed by my department, through an independent and fair process, to ensure that the matters that have been raised can be properly assessed and the views put by the respective parties in relation to these issues.
“I’m advised by the department they’ll be seeking to do this through Vivienne Thom. This will enable my department to provide me with any further advice regarding any implications for the ministerial standards.”
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Miller said her relationship with Tudge was defined by “significant power imbalance” and called on the government to implement the recommendations of Kate Jenkins’ Set the Standard report.
“It took a long time to face the truth about what happened, but the memories are clearly etched in my brain,” she said.
Miller described one occasion in 2017, where she alleged Tudge “kicked” her out of bed while she was naked during a work trip. She said her phone had rung at 4am with calls from the media.
“I felt someone kicking me on the side of my hip and leg as I tried to sit up in bed,” she said.“It was the minister. He was furious, telling me to get the fuck out of his bed.”
“I quickly told the producer I’d call her back. Then I realised I was completely naked. He continued to kick me until I fell off the side of the bed and ended up on the floor.
“I searched around in the dark for my clothes. He was yelling at me that my phone had woken him up. He needed to get some more sleep. He told me to get the fuck out of his room and make sure that no one saw me.”
Miller’s new allegations come just days after Kate Jenkins released her report into workplace culture at parliament house.
“This is not about revenge… it’s about ensuring that no one else goes through this in this workplace,” Miller said.
“The Liberal Party doesn’t have a women problem, it has a men problem.
“Labor have stayed quiet because they have just as many skeletons. The two major parties will work together when it comes to protecting each other.”
Alan Tudge has said he “completely and utterly rejects” Miller’s version of events.