Federal Minister Alan Tudge has stood aside following renewed allegations of abuse by his former employee, with whom he had an affair in 2017.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told parliament on Thursday the MP has decided to stand aside while investigations into the claim take place.
Tudge’s former staffer Rachelle Miller made the allegations in relation to the pair’s affair, which she revealed on ABC’s Four Corners in November 2020.
Miller elaborated on their relationship to media in the wake of a troubling parliamentary review released this week, which revealed one in three parliamentary staffers had experienced sexual harassment.
She claimed her relationship with Tudge was “more complicated” and was defined by a power imbalance. She then alleged that their relationship was at times “abusive”.
“I was completely under his control. He war-gamed lines with me, telling me to stay silent, telling me that we were in this together, that people were trying to destroy us, his career, my career,” she said.
Tudge has vehemently denied the allegations, saying in a statement that he “completely and utterly rejects Ms Miller’s version of events”.
Morrison told parliament on Thursday that “these issues are obviously deeply concerning and I know deeply distressing, for Ms Miller, minister Tudge and the families affected by these events”.
He added that while Tudge had denied the allegations, the “seriousness of the claims” meant it was important for the matters to 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.”
Morrison confirmed he asked Tudge to step aside while the allegations are investigated by an independent review, which will be run by the Prime Minister’s department.
Miller worked as Tudge’s press secretary when he was the Minister of Human Services.
She called out the toxic workplace culture of parliamentarians in the wake of the review’s release this week.
“The Liberal party doesn’t have a women problem. It has a men problem,” she said.
“I’m not here because I want to be but because speaking through the media is the only way that this government will listen. All of us who have survived awful experiences in this workplace tried to reach out and seek change many, many times before we went to the media. This is our last resort.”