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Source: The Conversation (Au and NZ) – By Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Alan Tudge faces the sack from the frontbench over seeking to promote his lover while they were in an undisclosed relationship, according to a Channel 10 report on Tuesday.

Channel 10 journalist Peter van Onselen said the investigation into allegations by ex-staffer Rachelle Miller that Tudge was emotionally, and on one occasion physically, abusive towards her had not supported her claim.

But according to van Onselen, the inquiry by Vivienne Thom had pointed to the promotion, and this could be used to dismiss him on the grounds of breaching the ministerial standards code.

Scott Morrison ordered the investigation late last year after Miller made her claims, which took further earlier allegations she made against Tudge in an ABC Four Corners program in 2020. Miller did not participate in the inquiry.

Tudge stood aside from his position as education minister pending the outcome of the investigation. Morrison has had the report since late January.

A spokesman for Morrison said “the matter is still in process”.

It was being undertaken “without prejudice to ensure it is being dealt with fairly,” the spokesman said.

He said Stephanie Foster, a deputy secretary in the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, had told a Senate estimates hearing on Monday she intended to release the report.

“The Prime Minister supports her view and approach,” the spokesman said.

Foster told the hearing the department had advised that if the government wanted to provide the report to Tudge and Miller, the department should consult those who provided the inquiry with confidential information.

Foster said the Commonwealth had told Miller “that, to the extent that it was within the Commonwealth’s power to release the report, it would but that we had to be conscious that there may be third-party concerns to take into account”.

Asked in an estimates hearing about the Channel 10 report, Senate leader Simon Birmingham said: “We’re not going to respond to a news report in a way that undermines the rights of those who engaged in a review process.

“We want to ensure that review is concluded and Mr Tudge and Ms Miller receive the findings of Dr Thom, which will be more substantive than that [media] report if it is accurate.”

Meanwhile at Tuesday’s government parties meeting, Morrison stressed his troops must be focused in the run up to the election. “You haven’t seen me as focused as I can be yet.”

“We have a job to do – I’m going to do mine, I need you to do yours. I need you to focus on your seats.”

As it continued its attacks on Anthony Albanese’s credentials on national security, the government homed in on its legislation to make it easier to cancel visas of people convicted of serious crimes.

Speaking on 2SM, Morrison said Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally “wants people who have been convicted of domestic violence to stay in the country because the judge gave them a soft sentence”.

He said the government had cancelled 10,000 visas since it first came to office, 4,000 just since the 2019 election.

But criminals were using a loophole to help them stay when the government tried to cancel their visa, Morrison said.

He said if a judge gave them a sentence of less than two years for crimes such as domestic violence, assaulting police officers, concealing child abuse offences or date rape, even though the crime carried a two-year sentence, they could appeal against the decision to cancel their visa.

“Anthony Albanese likes to talk about […] whose side is he on – well he is clearly on the side of criminals. And if that’s what side he wants to choose, well, he can explain that to the Australian people.”

Labor has said the legislation is not necessary, because the immigration minister has adequate powers already. However in parliament on Tuesday, minister Alex Hawke pointed to a limitation on his power.

This limitation would give Labor a way out, to prevent being wedged, if it wants to take it and support the legislation.

The legislation will be debated in the House of Representatives on Wednesday. The Senate is not sitting so it could not be considered there before the very brief budget sitting.

The Conversation

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

ref. The future of Alan Tudge ‘still in process’, according to Prime Minister’s Office – https://theconversation.com/the-future-of-alan-tudge-still-in-process-according-to-prime-ministers-office-177166

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