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Two More Staff Members Have Left Employment Minister Michaelia Cash's Office

The minister's office said they weren't sacked.

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Two more staff members have left employment minister Michaelia Cash's office, bringing the total since October to four.

In the last month chief of staff Ben Davies and media adviser Andrew Hudgson have both left the minister's office.

BuzzFeed News understands that Hudgson was told he wouldn't be kept on following the December reshuffle that saw Cash add jobs and innovation to her ministerial portfolios. (With each promotion or demotion ministers are able to make staff changes). His role as assistant media adviser will be filled in due course.

Hudgson worked alongside former senior media adviser David De Garis, who resigned in the wake of BuzzFeed News' revelations in October that media outlets had been tipped off about the Australian Federal Police (AFP) raids on the offices of the Australian Workers' Union (AWU).

It's understood Davies took a voluntary redundancy after the reshuffle for family reasons, citing the difficulty of working between Perth and Canberra.

Senior adviser Simon Berger resigned from Cash's office in November, after working in parliament for nearly four years. He subsequently took a job as the deputy director of the federal Liberal Party.

Cash's office did not answer BuzzFeed News' questions about the staff changes, but a spokesperson from the government said that "no staff have been dismissed".

The AWU Sydney and Melbourne offices were raided by the AFP on the behalf of the Registered Organisations Commission (ROC) in late October. The raids were made as part of an investigation into donations by the union over a decade ago when it was led by current Labor leader Bill Shorten.

Before the story was published, Cash denied five times to Senate Estimates that she or her staff members had informed the media of the raid. After the story was published, however, Cash changed her tune.

The AFP told BuzzFeed News the investigation into the leaks is ongoing.

Cash has refused to answer questions about the scandal since the AFP investigation began in October, telling a Senate committee any answers would be sub judice.

However Labor's shadow minister for employment and workplace relations Brendan O'Connor told BuzzFeed News that Cash should explain what occurred in her office and "not hide behind claims of public interest immunity".

Cash is also using the current AFP investigation to block freedom of information requests to release communication that would confirm exactly what she and her staff knew about the raids, when they knew it, and who they told.

The AWU requested any correspondence between Cash, her office and the ROC, in addition to any correspondence between the minister and relevant staff members. This could include any text messages, emails, phone lists and other correspondence.

The union lost its bid this week to see evidence around the tip off that sparked the raids, as part of its Federal Court case into the validity of the ROC's investigation.


Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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