A political scandal surrounding parliamentary culture has spread to the office of Michaelia Cash, who has been accused of sending “offensive and degrading” messages about a female employee.
- Rachelle Miller claims she was the victim of a “fake dismissal process” aimed at getting her out of Michaelia Cash’s office
- Ms. Miller is at the center of complaints against incumbent Immigration Secretary Alan Tudge
- A 14-page workplace bullying complaint was filed with the Treasury Department last Thursday
Rachelle Miller, who is at the center of complaints against incumbent Immigration Secretary Alan Tudge, also claims she was the victim of a “fake dismissal process” aimed at firing her from Senator Cash’s office.
Ms. Miller makes the allegations in a 14-page workplace bullying complaint filed with the Department of Finance and Administration last Thursday that lists allegations against Mr. Tudge and Senator Cash.
The former Liberal Party official joined Senator Cash as a senior media advisor in November 2017, the day after Mr. Tudge left his office. At the time, Senator Cash was Minister of Labor and Minister of Industry, Innovation and Science.
Ms. Miller had a friendly relationship with Mr. Tudge while working for him. In her complaint to the finance department, she alleges that Mr. Tudge bullied, belittled and intimidated her.
“Due to the lingering rumors throughout the building, during my first week in the office, I privately let Minister Cash know that I had a relationship with Alan that was now over and that my loyalty was there,” Ms. Miller writes in her complaint.
“She was supportive and kind. The first months were fine and I was treated well by the minister and the CoS (chief of staff). “
She claims the workplace was less supportive a few months later under the new chief of staff, Gisele Kapterian, who has since left.
“Gisele said she thought my ‘personal problems were affecting my job performance.’ I disagreed and said that it was about the volume of work and permit procedures and the problems that arise from having two separate departments, ”Ms. Miller said in her complaint.
“I had the feeling that Gisele lit me with gas and kept sowing doubts about my ability in my head, without giving any specific examples.”
“I hadn’t told Gisele about my personal life so I was confused about why she was using this against me and then suspected that Minister Cash had informed her about my relationship with Minister Tudge, but this was not addressed.”
According to the May 2018 budget, when many ministers were touring the country to sell the political embassy, Ms. Miller was told that she would not be traveling with the minister as Senator Cash deemed her presence unnecessary.
“I felt like I was doomed. There was no way I could manage it from the Canberra office, ”Ms. Miller’s complaint stated.
“During this time the minister also posted text messages on the office’s WhatsApp group that I believed were attacking and degrading myself.”
In June 2018, Ms. Miller was notified that the office should be restructured and that her role should be dismissed. She was told that she could apply for a junior position and that she would not meet the selection criteria for a job that was on par with her existing role.
“It was very clear that this was a fake redundancy process that was put in place to remove me from the office,” said her complaint.
“There was no reason for it, a performance management process was not in place, nor had I received any formal warnings.”
Ms. Miller’s complaint states that she did not file a complaint at the time “as I was concerned that it had leaked and that it might affect my chances of finding another job”.
She also claims that when she ran for a post in Scott Morrison’s government after the 2019 elections, her appointment, though approved by a minister, was blocked by the “star chamber” overseen by liberal power broker Tony Nutt.
Senator Cash has denied Ms. Miller’s claims.
“The Minister strongly denies allegations of adverse treatment by her or her office to Ms. Miller and strongly denies the version of Ms. Miller’s events,” the minister’s spokesman said.
“At the time of her appointment between late 2017 and mid-2018, the Secretary and the Office understood Ms. Miller’s personal circumstances and were offered support, vacation and flexible work arrangements.
“Given that the matter is now under a formal process in the Treasury, the Minister will not make any further comments.”
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