Federal Liberal MP Alan Tudge will remain on the backbench as a report finds he didn’t breach ministerial standards despite allegations from a former staffer about their 2017 relationship.
Dr Vivienne Thom, a former public servant of 30 years’ experience, has concluded a review into allegations by former staffer Rachelle Miller, finding the evidence “does not provide a basis for a finding that Mr Tudge’s conduct breached the ministerial standards”.
Miller, who had a consensual relationship with Tudge in 2017, has alleged the relationship was emotionally abusive and on one occasion physically abusive.
“This relationship was defined by a significant power imbalance,” Miller told reporters in December.
Prime minister Scott Morrison said Miller had chosen not to participate in the inquiry and Thom had relied on Miller’s public statements. Morrison said he accepted Thom’s advice.
The prime minister in December asked Tudge, who was education minister and has rejected the allegations, to stand aside from the ministry while the investigation took place.
“Today he has informed me that in the interests of his family and his own well-being and in order to focus on his re-election as the Member for Aston he is not seeking to return to the frontbench, and I support his decision” Morrison said on Friday.
Acting education and youth minister Stuart Robert will continue in the role.
Thom’s report has been released on the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet website.
“These matters are deeply distressing both for Ms Miller and Mr Tudge, and the families who are affected by these events,” Morrison said. “I know today will be a difficult day for them.”
Tudge in a statement on Friday welcomed report which he said found “none Rachelle Miller’s allegations against me for alleged events in 2017 were substantiated, nor was there any breach of ministerial standards”.
“This is the second inquiry created at the request of Ms Miller and the second time that the allegations have been dismissed,” he said.
Ahead of the release of the report on Friday afternoon, Miller said on Twitter that “it smells like a perfect day for [Scott Morrison] to take out the trash”.