Michaelia Cash staff ‘working 17-hour days’
GOVERNMENT frontbencher Michaelia Cash has defended her office as "dedicated" and "hardworking" following the revelation 12 experienced advisers have resigned in less than a year, with claims they work up to 17-hour days.
The embattled Jobs Minister, whose office could be referred to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions for tipping off the media about AFP raids at AWU headquarters, has a higher than usual turnover rate with a dozen media and policy advisers leaving her employ since late last year.
Her office has been in turmoil since senior media adviser, David De Garis resigned in October 2017, when he admitted to leaking news of AFP raids to the media.
De Garis had only recently returned to the role as a stopgap measure to replace the former senior media adviser, Graham Mason, who was considered a sharp operator when he worked for former Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett, but resigned after several months working for Senator Cash.
Assistant media adviser Andrew Hudgson also left Senator Cash's office late last year and is now working for Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman.
The latest to leave the office was her new senior media adviser, Rachelle Miller, who was highly respected in the press gallery after nine years working for the Liberal Party.
The Telegraph understands Ms Miller was counselled after she was unable to go on an interstate work trip because she had to look after her daughter, who was left stranded by a cancelled flight.
The Prime Minister's office became involved in managing the situation.
It is well known among Turnbull Government staff that Ms Cash's office works among the longest hours, at times starting at 6am and working until 10pm or 11pm.
Asked about the high-turnover of staff and the gruelling hours, Ms Cash's spokeswoman said she has a "dedicated and hardworking team."
"The Minister works long hours to serve the Australian people and create more jobs and opportunities for Australian families," she said.
"Staff in political offices, of all persuasions, work incredibly hard. The Minister makes it a priority to ensure her staff have the best possible work-life balance."
Ms Cash's spokeswoman said she was proud that some of her staff have been promoted to more senior positions in Government, some left after the December reshuffle when their skill was no longer required and others from Arthur Sinodinos' office were returned to the Department.
"The Ministers responsibilities changed following the December reshuffle. The Minister is now responsible for two large Departments and this has required a reorganisation of the Ministerial Office," her spokeswoman said.
Deputy Director of the Liberal Party Simon Berger, who was a senior adviser for Senator Cash until November last year, said she was "one of the most professional and courteous ministers" he had ever encountered and "certainly the most fun."
Another former staff member, who declined to be named, said he had never enjoyed working with anyone more than Minister Cash.
"Her work ethnic and dedication to her job were an inspiration," he said.
"I never experienced her treating other staff with anything less than the utmost respect and courtesy."
This week, it was revealed the AFP had decided to hand over their investigation into the media leaks about the AFP raid on AWU headquarters to the Commonwealth DPP.
The agencies are now liaising about whether charges should be laid.