Minister is accused of using a WhatsApp group to demean and spread rumours about Alan Tudge’s mistress – before forcing her out of politics
- Former adviser Rachelle Miller has accused Michaelia Cash of demeaning her
- Ms Miller is at the centre of an affair scandal with cabinet minister Alan Tudge
- She began working for Senator Cash in 2017 after leaving Mr Tudge’s office
- Ms Miller has lodged formal workplace bullying complaint against Mr Tudge
- She claims Ms Cash used a ‘fake redundancy’ process to boot her out of office
- Claims Ms Cash wrote messages ‘attacking’ her in an office WhatsApp group
- Senator Cash has strongly denied Ms Miller’s claims and her version of events
A former parliamentary media adviser has accused Employment Minister Michaelia Cash of ‘demeaning’ and spreading rumours about her before forcing her out of politics.
Rachelle Miller started working for Senator Cash’s office in November 2017, after leaving Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge’s office after they had an affair.
Last Thursday, Ms Miller lodged a workplace bullying complaint against both Ministers with the Department of Finance and Administration.
The 14-page document claims Mr Tudge, with whom she had been in a consensual relationship when they worked together, bullied, belittled and intimidated her.
Ms Miller has also accused Senator Cash of months of poor treatment during the first half of 2018, including allegations the Minister pushed her out of office by creating a ‘fake redundancy’ process.
Senator Cash has denied Ms Miller’s claims – saying she strongly disagreed with her version of events.
Population Minister Alan Tudge had an affair in 2017 with former Coalition media adviser Rachelle Miller. The two are pictured together at the mid-winter ball in 2017
‘During this time the minister was also posting text messages on the office WhatsApp group I felt were attacking and demeaning towards myself,’ Ms Miller wrote in the complaint, the ABC reports.
The former Liberal Party staffer claims she was punished during her time in Senator Cash’s office because of her affair with Mr Tudge.
Ms Miller said she confidentially told Minister Cash about her relationship with Mr Tudge during the first week in office as rumours were swirling across the building.
But she said the senator was really supportive the first few months.
Things changed though, she claims, when a new chief of staff entered the office.
Ms Miller said the new COS told her she thought her personal issues were interfering with her work performance and started casting doubt in her own mind about her ability.
‘I had not told [her] anything about my personal life so I was confused about why she was using this against me and then suspected that Minister Cash had informed her about my relationship with Minister Tudge; however, this was not raised,’ she wrote.
Ms Miller said she noticed a change in Senator Cash’s treatment towards her after the May 2018 budget as the minister embarked on a campaign tour across the country.
She claims she was told she would not be needed on the trip as Senator Cash, then employment minister as well as minister for industry, innovation and science, said it would not be necessary.
Ms Miller has lodged a workplace bullying complaint against Mr Tudge and Senator Michaelia Cash (pictured)
The complaint also claims Ms Miller felt ambushed in April 2018 with a request to go on leave, was asked whether personal issues were undermining her work, and was excluded from meetings.
In June 2018, Ms Miller was told the office was being restructured and her role would be made redundant.
Ms Miller was told she could apply for a more junior role.
‘It was very clear that this was a fake redundancy process put in place to get rid of me from the office,’ she wrote in a complaint to the Department of Finance.
‘There were no grounds for this, there had been no performance management process put in place, nor had I received formal warnings.’
Senator Cash has denied Ms Miller’s claims.
The former media adviser accused federal Employment Minister Michaelia Cash of forcing her out of her office through a ‘fake redundancy’ process
‘The minister strenuously rejects claims of any adverse treatment of Ms Miller by her, or her office, and strongly disputes Ms Miller’s version of events,’ a spokesman told Australian Associated Press.
‘At the time of her employment, between late 2017 and mid-2018, the minister and the office understood Ms Miller’s personal circumstances which is why support, leave and flexible work arrangements were offered to her.
‘Given the matter is now subject to a formal process in the Department of Finance, the minister will not be commenting further.’
Ms Miller has lodged a separate complaint against Mr Tudge, accusing him of bullying and intimidation.
She now works in the private sector.
Mr Tudge’s spokesman said he was not aware of any previous complaint and directed further enquiries to the finance department.
The explosive claims come days after a Four Corners documentary revealed female politicians in the federal government have a secret WhatsApp group where they complain about sexism in Parliament.
The group is used by Liberal and National MPs and senators to discuss gender equality and share experiences of unacceptable behaviour by male colleagues.
In one message aired on the ABC show on Monday night, a politician complained she overheard male colleagues judging women in bikinis during a party room meeting.
‘It is past time for us to get organised and collectively stand up. After listening in party room… to bikini judging commentary, enough is enough,’ the message read.
Female politicians in the federal government have a secret WhatsApp group where they complain about sexism in Parliament, a Four Corners documentary revealed. Pictured: A mock-up a message sent to the group by one woman
Another woman said that male Liberal members were guilty of ‘puerile back-stabbing’ and wanted to take women’s jobs.
‘We, each of us inspire young women to aim for leadership, how do we continue to do this in the face of puerile back-stabbing from male party members whose sole aim is to count numbers and take our place? This leads to huge party discontent and loss of loyal liberals who feel terribly betrayed,’ the woman wrote.
Ms Miller also featured on the exposé on sexism in Parliament House, where she exposed her relationship with Mr Tudge.