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Former Liberal minister Alan Tudge to quit politics

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Former minister Alan Tudge is expected to quit parliament today sparking a speculation that it could deliver a pathway for Josh Frydenberg to re-enter politics.

After weathering a series of controversies over his personal and professional life, including his ill-fated romantic entanglement with his press secretary Rachelle Miller, Mr Tudge is expected to quit after Question Time.

MPs say he has not been attending question time this week but is in the building and is expected to inform the House of Representatives of his resignation this afternoon.

His resignation will spark a by-election in the battleground seat of Aston in Melbourne’s outer suburbs and could provide an opportunity for Mr Frydenberg to return to parliament after he lost his own seat to teal independent Monique Ryan last year.

In recent weeks, Mr Tudge has given evidence at the royal commission into the unlawful Centrelink debt recovery scheme known as robodebt, insisting he was not responsible for his department’s failure to ensure the scheme was lawful.

Mr Tudge, who served as Human Services Minister in the Turnbull government between 2016 and 2017, has told the inquiry it was “unfathomable” that bureaucrats didn’t tell him they were concerned the scheme was illegal.

He said its legality “had not crossed my mind until I read about it in the newspaper, I think, following the federal court case [in 2019]”.

Last year, Mr Tudge was plagued with controversy over his relationship with his press secretary Ms Miller.

Ms Miller was awarded a $650,000 payout from the Department of Finance last year on a ‘no admissions’ basis following her complaints over her employment with the Coalition over many years including her time with Mr Tudge and former employer Attorney-General Michaelia Cash and former Liberal staffers

Both ministers have categorically denied bullying Ms Miller during her employment.

Mr Tudge has previously confirmed he had an intimate relationship with Ms Miller that did not involve sexual intercourse.

However, the relationship did involve the employer and employee spending time together naked in bed.

The Department of Finance has made no official finding of wrongdoing against any individual and nor has any previous workplace investigation into the matter.

In an interview with Sky News last year, Mr Tudge confirmed he was unaware of the fresh negotiations with the Department of Finance and had never been interviewed or asked to give evidence in relation to Ms Miller’s compensation claim.

“As the Prime Minister said, he’s unaware, I’m unaware, it’s a matter for the Department of Finance,” Mr Tudge said.

“I’m not aware of any of those things. I have no information. I haven’t been called as a witness. 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.”

Two previous investigations commissioned by the Morrison government into allegations Ms Miller was bullied during her time as a Liberal staffer have not made findings of wrongdoing against any individual.

Ms Miller declined to participate in the investigations on legal advice.

The first investigation conducted by Spark Helmore was completed a year ago.

As revealed at the time, it considered Ms Miller’s complaint about her employment in Mr Tudge’s office and Senator Cash’s office but was not able to substantiate the allegations after the complainant refused to participate on legal advice.

This investigation was released publicly by the Prime Minister and he has subsequently asserted Mr Tudge was “cleared” of the allegations.

Read related topics:Josh Frydenberg

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