Alan Tudge is leaving politics, but the ghosts of his past still haunt him

“I especially thank Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott for their leadership, support and strength,” Tudge said in his farewell address. Notably absent from the list was Turnbull, who made a cryptic reference to Tudge’s affair in his 2020 memoir A bigger picture.


As Minister for Human Services, Tudge oversaw a rise in the now-disgraced robo-debt system. The Royal Commission on the Illegal System heard last week that Tudge’s office was leaking private information to the media about welfare recipients who had complained about the debt recovery scheme.

As education secretary, Tudge warned that changes to the national history curriculum could result in students developing “hatred” for Australia and hearing “marginal” ideas about Anzac Day.

Victorian Education Minister James Merlino accused him of promoting “clumsy culture war garbage”. On leaving, Tudge said he still hopes the government will take a “more positive” view of the nation.

In 2020, Miller revealed at the four corners InvestigationInside the Canberra Bubble” that she and Tudge were having an affair. Tudge confirmed that their relationship had pushed professional boundaries and caused the end of his marriage.


Miller later expanded her grievances against Tudge, accusing him of bullying and intimidation, and emotional and physical abuse. Tudge vigorously denied the allegations but resigned from his portfolio while the matter was investigated. It emerged during last year’s election campaign that he was technically still a member of the cabinet.

Vivienne Thom, the former Intelligence agent tasked with investigating Miller’s claims, found that there was “insufficient evidence” to support the finding that Tudge had bullied or harassed Miller or that their relationship was emotionally or physically abusive . She added there was no basis for finding Tudge breached ministerial standards.

Miller, who did not take part in the investigation, later received a $650,000 payment from the Commonwealth. Tudge said he was neither involved in the payment nor aware of it.

As he neared the part of his speech thanking his family, Tudge choked and struggled to continue. A Parliament official brought him handkerchiefs; Colleagues brought him glasses of water. He regained his composure and made it to the end.

As Tudge’s colleagues applauded, Miller rose and left the chamber. The ghosts of Tudge’s private life followed his political career to the end.

Break through the noise of federal politics with news, perspective and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up for our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here. Alan Tudge is leaving politics, but the ghosts of his past still haunt him

Callan Tansill

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