Rachelle Miller has released details of her $650,000 Commonwealth settlement, after allegations of abuse by her former boss and then government minister Alan Tudge.
- Commonwealth settled with Rachelle Miller claims she first filed in 2020
- Ms Miller, a former employee, claims she was bullied and harassed while working for Alan Tudge and Michaelia Cash
- Mr. Tudge and Senator Cash deny the allegations
Ms Miller claimed she faced bullying, harassment and discrimination while working for Mr Tudge and for former government minister Michaelia Cash.
The Commonwealth paid Ms Miller $300,000 for injury, distress, humiliation, disruption of life, loss of professional status and personal dignity, $28,000 as reimbursement for past medical and similar expenses, and $62,000 additional for future medical expenses, as well as $110,000 for loss of past and future earning capacity.
He paid an additional $150,000 for Ms Miller’s legal fees.
Both Mr Tudge and Senator Cash were named in the settlement, although he noted the $650,000 payment was not an admission of liability or wrongdoing on the part of the Commonwealth.
Ms Miller wrote to federal politicians, urging them to implement all the recommendations of a labor standards inquiry in Parliament, after she was in the rare position of being able to release the details of her agreement:
“One of the main observations of the report is the importance of transparency throughout the complaint resolution process,” Miller wrote.
“Taxpayers have a right to know the results of complaints filed against elected officials, particularly if a settlement has been paid.
“Unfortunately, had my story not come to public attention through the media, I suspect an NDA would have been required by the Commonwealth.”
In a statement, Senator Cash’s office dismissed Ms Miller’s allegations.
“Senator Cash vigorously rejects allegations of any adverse treatment of Ms. Miller and strongly disputes Ms. Miller’s version of events. At the time of her employment, between late 2017 and mid-2018, Senator Cash and her office understood the situation Miller’s personal life, which is why she was offered support, time off and flexible work arrangements,” a spokesperson for Senator Cash said.
“Regulation is under the Ministry of Finance.”
Mr Tudge has previously denied the allegations, saying he ‘completely and utterly rejects Ms Miller’s version of events’.
The ABC has contacted Mr. Tudge for comment.
Ms Miller has made allegations – against her former boss Mr Tudge – of being emotionally and, on one occasion, physically abusive towards her while they were involved in a consensual affair in 2017.
She first raised the complaints with the Commonwealth in November 2020, but made them public late last year when scrutiny was already engulfing parliament’s working culture.
In a letter to parliamentarians, she wrote that former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ report on parliamentary workplaces showed “unacceptable” levels of sexual harassment, discrimination and bullying:
‘I also note that those responsible remain in Parliament and have not been held accountable for their behavior – no other workplace would accept this as satisfactory in 2022,’ Ms Miller wrote.
“Short of informing all voters in their constituency or being exposed to the public through the media, there is no other way for a parliamentarian to be sanctioned for unacceptable behavior at the place of work (unless convicted of a criminal offence).
“Their staff know this, and this huge power imbalance deters most from complaining.”
Speaking to ABC Radio, Ms Miller slammed the party she worked for, saying she didn’t believe that had changed.
“I believe they have their heads firmly in the sand,” Ms Miller said.
“And, in fact, no one from the Liberal Party has ever contacted me to talk about my experiences or ask me about it. No one.
“Right now I don’t think people would feel confident using this. [complaints] system.”
Ms Miller said “many, many” women have contacted her since she went public with her allegations to say they had had similar experiences working in parliamentary offices.
Ms Jenkins found that one in three people working in the federal parliament had experienced some form of sexual harassment there.
She recommended that Parliament implement a code of conduct, targets for gender balance among MPs and staff, and new alcohol policies to limit alcohol consumption in the workplace.