Former Australian prime minister reprimanded for secret ministerial posts

EPA

ANNOUNCEMENTS

An Australian commission of inquiry hasn’t got a good word for the behavior of former Prime Minister Morrison, who secretly held five ministerial posts. A former Supreme Court judge ruled that the practice undermined democracy in the country and called for reforms.

Just months after Scott Morrison was eliminated in an election, it emerged that he had granted himself far-reaching powers. Secretly he had officially appointed himself minister in the departments of Health, Economy, Interior, Finance and Raw Materials. Investigator Virginia Bell discovered that Morrison also wanted to be environment minister, but that didn’t happen for unclear reasons.

In most cases, the ministers involved were unaware that they had to share power with Morrison. The scheme was also not known in parliament. In one case, Morrison used his power to overturn an official minister’s decision. For example, he stopped a project involving offshore gas drilling, even though Minister Pitt was in favor.

“Unprecedented, unheard of and wrong”

Bell hacks Morrison’s reasoning that he needed the powers due to the exceptional circumstances during the corona pandemic. He has argued that he could immediately replace fallen ministers in crucial departments, but Bell stresses that interim ministers can be quickly appointed in an emergency.

“The previous premier’s behavior was unprecedented, unheard of and wrong,” replied Morrison’s successor, Albanese, to the results of the inquiry. He spoke of a cult of secrecy and a cover-up in which parliamentary scrutiny was seen as an annoying inconvenience.

Albanese intends to adopt six reforms proposed by Bell. For example, he wants to request the disclosure of ministerial appointments, the loophole Morrison used to keep his extent of power a secret.

national security

Morrison, meanwhile, insists the deal was legal and says national security restrictions prevent him from explaining everything correctly. “This makes it difficult for third parties to draw conclusive conclusions about this case.”

There is a possibility that Morrison will receive another official rebuke: as he became leader of the opposition in parliament after his election defeat, he can still be sanctioned there.

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