Education Minister Alan Tudge will formally stand aside from the ministry following accusations of physical and emotional abuse made against him by an ex-staffer.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Thursday afternoon that Tudge will be standing aside from his role as education minister while he is investigated by an independent review.
“These issues are obviously deeply concerning and I know deeply distressing, for Ms Miller, Minister Tudge and the families affected by these events. I have discussed Ms Miller’s statement with Mr Tudge, who refuted the allegations made,” said Morrison.
“Given the seriousness of the claims made by Ms Miller, it’s important these matters 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.
“I wish to stress that this action in no way seeks to draw a conclusion on these matters.
“But this is the appropriate action for me to take under the ministerial standards.”
Rachelle Miller is alleging that throughout the course of her association with Tudge, a significant power imbalance caused the relationship to become physically abusive.
“I am fully aware that a year ago I said my relationship with Minister Alan Tudge was a consensual relationship, but it’s more complicated than that,” Miller said in a statement.
“I was so ashamed, so humiliated, so scared, so exhausted. I told the small part of my story I was able to manage.
“There were times when he was kind, we had great conversations, we did a lot of amazing work together, through such tough times.
“But that happens in abusive relationships, as so many women know. You keep going back, hoping you’ll get the nice version.”
Tudge has categorically denied all allegations made against him, saying that he “completely and utterly rejects Ms Miller’s version of events”.