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The elusive education minister, Alan Tudge, has emerged on WeChat in an interview with a Chinese community leader where he responds generally to questions which include what to do about “toxic gender ideology” infiltrating schools.
Tudge has been largely invisible during the campaign after claims by former staffer Rachelle Miller that she was involved in consensual sexual relationship with Tudge which turned abusive, in one alleged instance, physically. Tudge has denied the allegations of abuse.
Despite the prime minister, Scott Morrison, telling parliament in December that Tudge had stood aside as minister and would not be returning to the ministery, he later told journalists that Tudge was “technically” still the minister, still in cabinet and would be returning to the role after the election.
An internal inquiry by a respected former public servant, Vivienne Thom, found Tudge had not breached ministerial standards, but a separate workplace lawsuit by Miller related to her time working in the offices of Tudge, and later Michaelia Cash, is still on foot and could result in a reported $500,000 in compensation. Tudge has said he has not been made aware of the reported payment and does not know what it relates to.
The three-minute interview began circulating on a WeChat offical account, AU Life Life, on Thursday and has so far had 347 views. The account is run by one of Gladys Liu’s volunteers and has been shared among a volunteer group associated with treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s campaign.
AULife Record has been sharing other Liberal party material, including reports by Liberal supporters of Alan Tudge’s campaign posters being vandalised.
Tudge’s video interview appears designed to appeal to conservative Chinese voters, who make up 12% of the population in Kooyong (where Frydenberg is facing a challenge from an independent) and nearly 20% in Chisholm, the Liberals’ most marginal seat.
In the video, a Chinese man identified only as Marcus said young families are concerned about slipping Naplan standards, a growth in “hate culture,” and “some toxic gender ideology entering the system”.
He asked what families can do to guard against “woke” culture and protect the education system.
Tudge replied: “One would be to keep close eyes on what your kids are being taught, and if you have concerns, raise them.”
“The second thing would be to choose your schools carefully, different schools have different values which are imparted and it should reflect the values that you hold in your family.
“And perhaps thirdly, I would say, think carefully who you will vote for. Certain political parties like, my political party, the Liberal party, you know what my views are as the education minister.
“Understand the views of other political parties too, because they are not always the same. We want higher standards in Liberal party. We do want positive, optimistic views of Australia implanted in our kids, and we want good mainstream values being implanted as well. That’s what we stand for, so think about that too.”
The caption on the video in Chinese makes reference to former prime minister Tony Abbott’s recent glowing endorsements of Tudge “as the best education minister we have ever had”.
“He is a one of small number of courageous MPs who dare to point out to the education department the decline of Australian education standards and who defend Australia’s glorious history of development and the Judeo-Christian cultural values that underpin its success,” the caption said.
The video does not carry any party authorisation.