What the hell is going on?

He left the ministry, despite “having done nothing wrong”, but is still “technically in the toilet”, even if some other guy has done his job.

He disappeared during the election campaign only to show up in a very casual sweater and ask reporters to email him questions, but both he and Prime Minister Scott Morrison insist that he will be welcomed back into the cabinet if the Coalition were to win on May 21.

And remember: he knows nothing – NOTHING – about paying half a million taxpayer dollars to his former press officer.

If I were to give Alan Tudge’s story on Goodreads a review, the key points would be: interesting, but with too many plot holes.

So what’s the story of Tudge? Here is a quick explanation.

Background

In November 2020, former Tudge staff member Rachelle Miller revealed that she and Tudge had led a secret relationship while working for him. Tudge publicly admitted the relationship and apologized to her family.

Then, in December 2021, Miller filed formal allegations that Tudge had been emotionally and physically abusive during a consensual relationship. Tudge denies the allegations.

Morrison announced an independent investigation into the allegations and Tudge resigned from the ministry. Stuart Robert, minister for aged care, withdrew his wallet while Tudge was on personal leave. Michael Bradley makes a great summary here of what we know about this case.

The independent investigation

During last night’s debate among leaders, Morrison said of the matter: “We had an independent investigation. We have addressed the issue. “

The independent investigation found insufficient evidence that Tudge violated ministerial standards. Although he apparently found no evidence of wrongdoing, Tudge remained on the bench. Strange Furthermore, Miller did not participate in the investigation, as he claimed that the government had ignored his concerns about terms of reference and thought the investigation “knows of a political solution.” She has not even been given the report of the investigation, despite being at the center of it.

The payout of $ 500,000

Last night, debate host Mark Riley asked Morrison a seemingly simple question: “Taxpayers don’t have the right to know why they paid half a million dollars in compensation to your education minister’s press secretary and former mistress Alan. Tudge, if he apparently did nothing wrong? “

Morrison replied: “This question, I was advised, has not even been resolved.”

News.com.au reported in early April that Miller should have received taxpayer-funded compensation of at least $ 500,000, in addition to legal fees. This was later confirmed by Guardian Australia. Then later that week, coalition campaign spokeswoman Anne Ruston told ABC National Radio that the payment was not related to the misconduct allegations raised by Miller but “a separate matter.”

A SEPARATE question? Is there another question worth half a million dollars ?!

Opposition leader Anthony Albanese asked for some transparency, please, as to why taxpayers are shelling out a whopping $ 500,000 last night. Morrison replied that it was a personal matter, but Miller released Morrison and the Commonwealth confidentiality obligations to him, meaning the government is free to share any information.

But wait, he’s still a minister!

With Tudge moving to the bench just months before the election, the consensus was that he would just slowly disappear into the night. In fact, Morrison’s words are what made him think this when he said in early March: “Today [Tudge] he informed me that in the interest of his family and his own well-being and to focus on his re-election as a member of Aston he is not trying to get back to the front row, and I support his decision. “

However. In the first week of campaigning, Morrison surprised everyone by saying that Tudge was “technically” still a member of his cabinet and that he hoped he would return to his wallet if the Coalition was re-elected.

He confirmed this again last night, saying that Tudge still had a “mandate as a minister”.

“He did not resign as a minister, nor was he fired,” Morrison said. “He will be happy to return and serve in the ministry, and I welcome him.”

And by the way, where is Tudge?

To put a cherry on Tudge’s ice cream cake, he’s rarely been spotted. In fact, for a sizzling minute #whereistudge was trending on Twitter.

Our correspondent in general Guy Rundle is said to have been trying to track him down, but to no avail. It was Sky News that found him on an election campaign in his Melbourne constituency. When asked about the payment to Miller, Tudge said: “As the prime minister said, he is not aware and I am not. This is a matter for the Department of Finance. ”

So neither the Prime Minister nor the minister / non-minister at the center of the case have any idea why there was a $ 500,000 payment – it’s just a financial matter.

Tudge was sure of one thing, though, telling Sky News: “The prime minister has made it clear that if we get re-elected and I’m in a position to step back then I will.”