Staffer reveals affair with minister
A former press secretary to Immigration Minister Alan Tudge has revealed she had an affair with him while working in his office and was left feeling like "damaged goods" after he asked her to war game denials.
In bombshell claims broadcast on the ABC's Four Corners program, former Coalition staffer Rachelle Miller has revealed that she was terrified it would be found out and she had other disturbing experiences with other senior Liberal MPs.
In one instance, Ms Miller revealed a "demeaning" experience at the mid winter-ball where she suggested Mr Tudge wanted her to walk in with him for the cameras.
"I was walking with Alan and I was chatting to him and I intentionally dropped back. I wasn't his guest. I wasn't his partner. And I didn't want to be on camera. And he stopped and he turned around, and he said, "No, I want you to walk in with me." And I was really surprised by that,'' she said.
"I have a feeling that my appearance had a bearing on why Alan would want to walk in with me on his arm, and I felt at that time a lot like an ornament."
The program detailed Mr Tudge's conservative views and his public reservations about changing the Marriage Act to include same-sex couples.
After the affair ended, Ms Miller said she was later demoted in a restructure and felt she had no choice but to leave politics.
"I knew I was leaving a job that I really loved, but I didn't see that there was any other way out,'' she said.
"You know, I actually at that time viewed myself as damaged goods and I was really worried about this coming out and impacting our chances at the election."
Alan Tudge said in a statement: "Tonight, matters that occurred in my personal life in 2017 were aired on the ABC's Four Corners program.
"I regret my actions immensely and the hurt it caused my family. I also regret the hurt that Ms Miller has experienced."
In 2018, Mr Turnbull rewrote the code of ministerial standards to ban ministers from having sexual relationships with staff
However, the affair Ms Miller took place in 2017 when Mr Tudge was in Human Services, a period in which she also later moved out of his office and into another minister's office.
As a result, there's no suggestion that Mr Tudge was in breach of the code, which only applied to sex with staffers in your office.
Four Corners did not claim that any senior minister had breached the "bonk ban" or the code of conduct.
Mr Turnbull confirmed however that when he announced the so-called bonk ban, that he had other MPs in mind beyond Barnaby Joyce.
"Today, in 2018, it is not acceptable for a Minister to have a sexual relationship with somebody who works for them, it is a very bad workplace practice and everybody knows that no good comes of it," Mr Turnbull said at the time.
"This is the standard that I will hold - from this day forth - all my ministers to."
'HIGHLY SEXUALISED ENVIRONMENT'
Ms Miller told Four Corners that Canberra could be a "highly sexualised environment."
"I don't for a moment kind of say that all the men were predators and all the women were victims, but, you know, it was a highly sexualised environment at times, and I think that's a consequence of the stress," she said.
"It's kind of that "work hard, play hard" mentality that I've seen before early in my career And there is a kind of … an almost gung-ho kind of mentality by a lot of the senior males that they're kind of almost beyond reproach, like, they can just get away with things. And … nobody calls that behaviour out."
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Former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally also detailed her surprise about being "hit on" at Canberra's midwinter ball by an unnamed man and how she went back and told one of her colleagues at Sky that she wouldn't go back to the event again without her husband.
"I can only describe what I witnessed and experienced and quite frankly, that was some men who were clearly on the make," she said.
"No harm was done to me, but it did make me feel uncomfortable. I hadn't particularly experienced that at a function like that before and it made me wonder what kind of environment is this, where men think they can just have a crack at it?".
The broadcast of the program last night follows allegations raised by Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour that the political pressure applied to the ABC had been "extreme and unrelenting."
News.com.au has contacted Mr Tudge for comment.
Originally published as Staffer reveals affair with minister