EXCLUSIVE: Allegations that Treasurer Josh Frydenberg kissed and groped a junior staffer without their consent a decade ago are said to be the key reason for why Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been trying to cover-up a major Department of Finance report into sexual abuse and harassment within Federal Parliament. Pierce Field reports.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is at the centre of the latest sexual harassment scandal that has plagued Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s tenure as leader of Australia.
It can now be revealed by True Crime News Weekly the embattled Treasurer – who is currently fighting for his political life to hold onto the Melbourne blue ribbon seat of Kooyong at the May 21 federal election – is the key reason for why Morrison and his government have refused for close to a month to release a Department of Finance report into allegations of sexual misconduct and bullying levelled against several Coalition MPs by former Liberal staffer, Rachelle Miller.
Ms Miller, a former media adviser to on-again / off-again Cabinet Minister Alan Tudge, has already made public allegations against Tudge that he had been emotionally and physically abusive whilst they were in an extra-marital relationship in 2017.
Tudge has admitted to the relationship but has continued to deny the allegations of physical violence and coercive control made by Ms Miller. So sure was Tudge of his supposed innocence, Ms Miller recently received a reported payment of more than $500,000 to keep her mouth shut, giving his boss Prime Minister Scott Morrison the ability to hide behind the non-disclosure agreement and refuse to answer any questions on the matter.
This is despite Ms Miller mid-last month bravely issuing a public challenge to the Prime Minister to release the report, risking her own reputation to bring these allegations to light.
Yet, the PM’s inaction is not because he wants to protect Tudge, but to protect one of his even more senior lieutenants and possible leadership replacement: Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.
A drinking and tennis playing buddy of Tudge, it can be revealed Frydenberg himself has been named in the ‘report’ commissioned by the Department of Finance via Sydney legal firm Sparke Helmore Lawyers as one of the many Coalition MPs alleged to have assaulted or bullied Ms Miller since 2010.
The report contains allegations Frydenberg kissed and groped Ms Miller without her consent while she was a junior Liberal Party staffer about a decade ago.
Frydenberg has been an MP in Federal Parliament since 2010. The Treasurer was an already married man at the time of the alleged incident involving Ms Miller, having married his current wife, Amie Frydenberg, in the same year as his election to Federal Parliament, in 2010.
Frydenberg and his team have been doing their best of late to make sure the allegations don’t see the light of day during the election campaign. Even going so far as plastering himself all over last weekend’s News Corp papers branded as the great family man who needs to be re-elected otherwise the world as we know it might end. It was a similar tactic that our old mate Barnaby Joyce used in 2017 when ‘rumours’ first started spreading about his own indiscretions.
It is likely Frydenberg’s desperation to hold onto his seat is partly motivated by the fact he has never held a real job outside of the Canberra bubble for more than four years.
“Why You Need To Vote For Me”: A desperate Josh Frydenberg using the media to portray himself as a “family man” (Image: News Corp / Supplied)
Frydenberg has been rattled both by Ms Miller’s allegations within the report as well as the electoral challenge from independent candidate Dr Monique Ryan, who has created a teal-wave of support in leafy Kooyong.
Such is Frydenberg’s fear of democracy he has spent most of the campaign sooking about someone daring to take the position he spent so many years sucking up to the likes of Jeff Kennett and Michael Kroeger for his ‘appointment’ to the blue-ribbon Liberal seat.
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The recent media offensive for Frydenberg concocted by Coalition HQ was a peculiar way to end a fortnight of Cabinet members dodging questions about the details of Ms Miller’s settlement.
An almost perfect way to hide the disturbing history of the former tennis hopeful that lost $60 billion in the 2019 / 20 financial year.
It seems like it’s not only the ‘JoshKeeper’ strategy that is backfiring.
This maybe the first time a gag-order on a victim of alleged sexual harassment by numerous powerful men has been used to protect a parliamentarian’s electoral interests.
These disturbing allegations also place a further spotlight on the culture of Parliament House and the role of the Department of Finance and the use of taxpayer funds to silence survivors of alleged abuse.
The Department of Finance is the government department responsible for the employment of parliamentarians staff under the Ministerial and Parliamentary Services Act 2020.
Reputational law firm Sparke Helmore are known to True Crime News Weekly as the Commonwealth’s go-to firm for ‘managing’ such matters despite the Department’s own in-house legal team.
In the public interest True Crime News Weekly has submitted a Freedom of Information request to the Department of Finance for the amount of taxpayer money spent on utilising Spark Helmore’s services over the last financial year.
Previous reporting has shown the integrity of the report run by the Sydney-based firm has left more questions than answers with Ms Miller refusing to take part in further ‘independent’ reviews commissioned by anyone remotely associated with Morrison’s Cabinet.
Indeed, Spark Helmore consider themselves “a proudly Australian law firm that delivers results”.
“Wherever our clients need us, that’s where we are,” their motto goes.
When your client is the Morrison Government, one can only imagine what ‘needs’ are being met given the line-up of alleged gropers and worse within the Prime Minister’s parliamentary party.
Frydenberg did not respond for requests for comment after True Crime News Weekly contacted him to outline the allegations made against him in the hushed-up report. He did not use the opportunity to defend himself or deny the claims whatsoever.
The Finance Minister, Simon Birmingham, also refused to provide a comment or indeed any explanation about the matters concerning his department’s involvement.
Sparke Helmore meanwhile also unsurprisingly did not return requests for comment.
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It must be stated that the information provided to True Crime News Weekly for this story has not come from either Ms Miller or her legal team at Gordon Legal.
Numerous voice messages and written messages sent by True Crime News Weekly to both Ms Miller and her legal team have not been responded to.
We have elected to publish this story and the allegations against Frydenberg as they are in the clear public interest and once again strike at the heart of a sickening culture that has for far too long usurped Canberra.
There seems to be a distinct theme and pattern with Scott Morrison’s leadership as prime minister. That is: Anytime there is an alleged abuse or harassment scandal involving someone powerful that he knows, Morrison’s first instinct – his automatic reaction – is to deflect, minimise, stick up for the boys. Christian Porter. Alan Tudge. Dyson Heydon. Bruce Lehrmann. George Christensen and his still unexplained years of unaccounted visits to the Philippines – a hub of child sexual abuse tourism for wealthy White men. Christensen only went to find himself a bride at the Ponytails strip club though. And now, Josh Frydenberg.
Morrison’s inaction perhaps shouldn’t be too much of a surprise though. His spiritual mentor is of course the recently fired Hillsong pastor Brian Houston, who is currently facing charges for enabling and covering up the prolonged child sexual abuse crimes committed by his own father. It seems like Morrison has learnt from some of the best in the business. At least there is one thing Morrison can look back fondly upon during his wasted and torrid time as prime minister of Australia. He was always good for a cover-up.
Additional reporting and research by Serkan Ozturk