Alan Tudge confirms shock resignation in emotional speech in parliament

Former cabinet minister Alan Tudge has confirmed his shock resignation from federal politics.

The Victorian Liberal MP announced his retirement in an emotional valedictory speech in parliament on Thursday afternoon, not long after reports emerged he was expected to quit.

“While this profession can be unforgiving at times, serving as a member of parliament has been one of the greatest honours of my life,” Mr Tudge said in the House of Representatives.

The Aston MP, whose resignation will trigger a by-election, said the decision to step down had not been an easy one, but it was necessary for his health and for his family.

Thursday was the first time Mr Tudge was seen in the lower house since parliament returned for the new year, with his office citing illness as the reason for his absence earlier in the week.

At one point during his speech, Mr Tudge was moved to tears and had to pause to compose himself.

He cited social policy reforms as among his proudest achievements in parliament, including enforcing stronger obligations for welfare recipients to search for jobs and establishing the now abolished cashless welfare card.

Mr Tudge praised community volunteers as the “true heroes of our nation” and thanked his constituents and the Liberal Party for all their support.

He said he was looking forward to being there for his three children after spending a lot of time away from home in his nearly 13 years as a federal MP.

“My daughters, who are 18 and 16, know nothing other than their dad being away,” he said.

“They’ve had to put up with things that no teenager should have to, including death threats.”

Anthony Albanese gave a short speech of his own in which he revealed Mr Tudge had informed him earlier on Thursday of his decision to retire.

Camera IconAlan Tudge stood down from politics after question time. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

The Prime Minister said he and Mr Tudge had discussed the ramifications of a life in parliament on one’s children, including the toll of hateful anonymous comments on social media.

“We have political differences … and there is no point gilding the lily there, and he wouldn’t want me to either, but I thank him for his service in this House,” Mr Albanese said.

Rachelle Miller, the ex-staffer who revealed she had an affair with Mr Tudge, arrived quietly in the House of Representatives during question time and watched on from the public gallery as her former boss spoke.

She posted a statement on Twitter after his valedictory speech.

“Politics is brutal. I saw its impact on people, and I live with that impact still,” she wrote.

“I tried to support Alan through the most stressful of times. I hope he seeks the help he needs for his health and more time with his family. I wish him peace.”

Ms Miller has previously accused Mr Tudge of being physically and emotionally abusive while they were in a consensual relationship.

He has denied the claims and inquiries into allegations made no findings against him.

Mr Tudge’s relationship with Ms Miller is among a series of political scandals faced by the former frontbencher.

Last week, Mr Tudge was grilled at the robodebt royal commission about his role in the botched Centrelink debt recovery scheme in 2017 when he was human services minister.

Ms Miller also fronted the royal commission, where she said Mr Tudge told her to “shut down” negative media coverage of the scheme.

The reports of Mr Tudge’s imminent retirement have sparked rumours former treasurer Josh Frydenberg would make a bid to be preselected for his seat.

Camera IconJosh Frydenberg is rumoured to be considering a return to federal politics. NCA NewsWire / Andrew Henshaw Credit: News Corp Australia

Aston, which takes in the outer eastern Melbourne suburbs of Rowville and Knox, was once considered a safe bet for the Liberals.

However it was reduced to marginal status after Mr Tudge experienced a swing against him to Labor in 2022 which whittled the margin down from 10.1 per cent to 2.8 per cent.

Mr Frydenberg was booted out of parliament last year in a bruising election battle against independent Monique Ryan in the nearby, but not neighbouring, Melbourne seat of Kooyong.

Mr Frydenberg experienced a swing of more than 10 per cent against him on a two-party preferred basis, and his loss marked the first time Kooyong had fallen out of Liberal hands since its inception in 1944.

But the man once touted as the future leader of the Liberal Party would be set for a political comeback if he ran for and won the prized blue-ribbon electorate of Aston.

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