A former staffer to government minister Alan Tudge makes a formal complaint about her time working in his office at Parliament, alleging he acted in ways that made her feel humiliated and belittled and left her in tears.
A former Liberal staffer who worked for government minister Alan Tudge has made a formal complaint about her time working in his office at Parliament, alleging he acted in ways that made her feel humiliated and belittled and left her in tears.
- Former staffer Rachelle Miller is not making any allegations of sexual harassment
- She claims Alan Tudge’s behaviour made her “constantly afraid of losing [her] job”
- Mr Tudge’s spokesperson says he expects the complaint will be the subject on an independent inquiry
In her complaint to the Department of Finance, seen by the ABC, Rachelle Miller describes numerous occasions where she alleges Mr Tudge was extremely critical of her work, often in public and in front of other staff, politicians or community members.
On one job, Ms Miller says she was brought to tears by his behaviour in front of one of her colleagues at an airport, when she claims he persistently asked where a Facebook video of the day’s media event was.
“I was upset and very tired so I went to the bathroom and sat there and cried until closer to our departure time in order to avoid him,” she writes in the complaint.
Ms Miller alleges that after further badgering on the plane she became visibly upset.
“I ended up in tears on the plane, the person sitting next to me gave me a very awkward smile and tried to cheer me up.
“They had witnessed the whole thing and it was very humiliating.”
The complaint says she decided to seek another role the next day after confronting him about his behaviour.
“I decided to speak up and let him know this was not appropriate behaviour and that I wanted it to stop.
“He replied in a very angry tone … ‘Stop being such a precious petal.’
“I was very distressed and desperate to escape the situation.”
Ms Miller writes that Mr Tudge’s behaviour made her “constantly afraid of losing [her] job”.
Rachelle Miller worked for Alan Tudge several years ago.(Supplied)
Ms Miller and Mr Tudge had been having an affair but she has not made any allegations of sexual harassment. The relationship took place before February 2018, when then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull introduced a ‘bonk ban’ prohibiting sex between ministers and their staff.
The affair was revealed by Four Corners on Monday night.
After the episode went to air Mr Tudge apologised for the hurt his affair caused.
“I regret my actions immensely and the hurt it caused my family. I also regret the hurt that Ms Miller has experienced,” he said on Monday night.
In her complaint, Ms Miller claims Mr Tudge would often ask her to dinner or drinks at the end of a long day on the road.
“I often felt like I didn’t have much choice or couldn’t say no because he was my boss,” she writes.
The Department of Finance said it would not comment on individual matters, but that any reports of workplace bullying would be addressed in line with its Workplace Bullying and Harassment Policy.
“The policy sets out that Finance will evaluate the report and the range of possible responses or actions, which includes an investigation,” it said.
“The policy makes clear that Finance may arrange a workplace investigation by an independent contracted provider who specialises in the field. It sets out the possible outcomes of an investigation.”
In a statement, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said he understood the Department had received a complaint from Ms Miller.
“Any staff complaints received by the Department are investigated thoroughly and in a manner entirely independent of Government,” he said.
When contacted about Ms Miller’s allegations, a spokesperson for Mr Tudge said he was aware of the complaint.
“The Minister learned yesterday through the media that a complaint was lodged last week with the Department of Finance containing allegations about Ms Miller’s employment in his office several years ago,” they said.
“The Minister was not aware of any previous complaint.
“As appropriate, the Minister anticipates that the Department of Finance would conduct an independent inquiry into this matter.”