Minister Alan Tudge accused of hypocrisy after admitting affair

Alan Tudge, who is currently the acting Immigration Minister, confirmed earlier this week that back in 2017 when he was voicing his opposition to marriage equality, and presenting himself as politician guided by family values, he was also having an extra-martial affair with a staffer.

Former Liberal staffer Rachelle Miller told the ABC’s 4 Corners program that she and her then boss had been in a relationship, while both were married. Miller told the Monday night program that she thought it was hypocritical that Tudge would espouse one set on values in parliament, but follow a different set on values in his own life.

Back in 2017 Tudge said he was concerned that allowing same-sex couples to wed would weaken the institution of marriage.

“My reservations about changing the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples was my view that marriage is an institution that traditionally has been primarily about creating a bond for the creation, love and care of children.

“And I was concerned that if the definition is changed to be purely one about recognising love, rather than a foundation for the raising of children, then the institution itself would potentially be weakened. I hope I am wrong. I hope that, by expanding the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples, the institution of marriage will be strengthened.” Tudge said.

This week’s edition of 4 Corners focused on the behavior of government ministers and the power dynamics that exist with staff inside the “Canberra Bubble”. In the lead up to it’s broadcast the ABC reported that many Liberal staffers had contacted the broadcaster to question if the program was in the public interest. Board members of the broadcaster were also reportedly approached about the program’s contents ahead of its screening.

Miller has filed a workplace bullying complaint with her former employer and the Finance Department is now investigating the claims. After he relationship with the Minister ended she was transferred and later demoted in a staffing restructure.

In a statement the Minister said he regretted his extra-martial affair.

“I regret my actions immensely and the hurt it has caused my family. I also regret the hurt that Ms Miller has experienced.” Alan Tudge said.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was also interviewed for the program and discussed why he eventually brought in a Ministerial Code of Conduct that forbid Ministers from having sexual relationships with their subordinates.

When the commonly named ‘bonk ban’ was introduced in 2018 it was widely believed that it was because of the relationship between Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and his relationship with his Press Officer.

Speaking on 4 Corners Turnbull said it surprised him that the politicians who often spoke against marriage equality were often the ones who had relationships outside of their own marriages.

“Some of the most trenchant opponents of same-sex marriage, all in the name of traditional marriage, were at the same time enthusiastic practitioners of traditional adultery,” Turnbull said.

The former PM said the same-sex marriage was debate was “dripping with hypocrisy” and “the pools were deepest at the feet of the sanctimonious.”

Attorney General Christian Porter has threated legal action over content with the 4 Corners program which suggested he may have acted inappropriately with a staff member in a Canberra bar back in 2017.

Appearing on 6PR’s Morning program with Gareth Parker, Porter said his recent marriage breakdown had nothing to do with a third party and the claims put forth by the ABC were completely false.

“I have never breached the ministerial code’s ban on relationships, I have never had a relationship with any of my staff as a minister.” Porter said in a statement provided to The West Australian. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said both MPs have his full support and highlighted that the alleged incidents had occurred prior to the introduction of the current Code of Ministerial Conduct, and under the reign of the previous Prime Minister.

“In terms of the individuals subject to the report last night, those matters were addressed by [Turnbull] at the time, and they relate to issues that predated that ministerial standard, and as a result, he dealt with them at that time,” Morrison told reporters at Parliament House on Tuesday. He also chastised members of the media for referring to the code as a “bonk ban”.

Monday night’s edition of 4 Corners attracted 824,000 viewers across the five capital cities, substantially more than it’s regular audience.

OIP Staff

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