Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed that Alan Tudge will return to the cabinet if the Coalition government is re-elected on May 21.
Morrison made the comment during the latest leaders’ debate, broadcast on Channel Seven on Wednesday night.
Tudge was forced to stand aside at the end of last year, when an inquiry was launched into allegations from one of his former political advisors, Rachelle Miller. Miller accused Tudge of bullying, harassment, emotional abuse and on one occasion, physical abuse.
Tudge denied the allegations, and no evidence was presented to the inquiry that would have led to a finding that he breached ministerial standards. Miller did not take part in the inquiry over concerns it was not fair or independent.
Tudge had been absent from the Morrison government’s election campaign, including in his seat of Aston, until this week, when he told Sky News he is not aware of the reasons Rachelle Miller was receiving a tax-payer funded payout of more than $500,000. He said it was a matter for the Department of Finance.
“I’m not aware of any of those things. I have no information. I haven’t been called as a witness,” Tudge told Sky News.
“I haven’t been asked to provide evidence and, as the Prime Minister said, if it involved me he would have been made aware and hasn’t been made aware.”
Tudge also confirmed he would be interested in returning to the federal cabinet if the government is re-elected.
“I stood down from being education minister some months ago now for family, for health reasons and [to] concentrate on my electorate and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing,” Tudge said.
“The Prime Minister has made clear that should we be re-elected and I’m in a position to step back up, then I’ll do so.”
Morrison has previously confirmed Tudge is still technically a member of the front bench, because he still has a warrant from the Governor-General. Stuart Robert is currently the acting education minister.
Until this week, Tudge has refused all media interviews during the campaign, and said he will not take part in a debate with Shadow Education Minister, Tanya Plibersek, ahead of the election.