Contingent payment to former Tudge staffer acknowledges ‘major claim’

“I can’t confirm for you if a payment has even been made,” he told 5AA radio in Adelaide on Tuesday.

“But I know it’s taxpayers’ money, and these matters are handled by the finance ministry at arm’s length from politicians, including, you know, the special minister of state.”

Government rules for handling legal cases state that any settlement over $100,000 should be treated as a major claim. This includes seeking an independent written legal opinion from the Australian Government solicitor or outside law firm that the settlement is in accordance with legal principles and practice.

The Legal Department guidelines also warn departments that settling a claim “requires the existence of at least a significant prospect of established liability” and that the amount of a payment must take into account the chances of success of a claim. claim in court.

“In particular, settlement shall not be made merely on the basis of the cost of defending what is clearly a spurious claim,” the rules state.

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A spokesperson for the Department of Finance said the department “has engaged with Ms Miller’s legal representatives on behalf of the Commonwealth in accordance with its obligations under the Legal Services Directions 2017”.

“The Department does not comment on the specifics of an individual claim,” they said.

Morrison’s department assigned respected investigator Dr. Vivienne Thom to examine the nature of the relationship between Miller and Tudge.

Miller did not participate in the legal opinion investigation. Thom’s report, released March 4, found no evidence that Tudge violated the ministerial code of conduct at the time.

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Morrison was asked on Tuesday “did the money just fly from the sky to the Treasury” without any oversight, given that he has no knowledge of the settlement with Miller.

“You also assume there is wrongdoing on the part of Alan Tudge. No issues were raised with me by the Treasury regarding any of these things,” Morrison said.

“We have conducted an independent investigation led by Vivienne Thom…so the suggestion that Alan is somehow found, you know, is not supported by the independent investigation.”

Labor say it is not enough for the Prime Minister to say he does not know how $500,000 is spent.

“If Alan Tudge did nothing wrong, why was half a million dollars of taxpayers’ money spent on compensation? And if Alan Tudge did something wrong, why is he still in the firm? said Labor MP Jason Clare.

“It stinks.”

Jacqueline Maley cuts through the noise of the federal election campaign with news, opinion and expert analysis. Sign up for our Australia Votes 2022 newsletter here.