An Australian commission of inquiry does not have 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 reform.
A few months after Scott Morrison was voted into the election, it turned out that he had given himself far-reaching powers. In secret, he officially appointed himself Minister in the Departments of Health Care, Economics, Interior, Finance, and Raw Materials. Investigator Virginia Bell found that Morrison also wanted to become Minister of the Environment, but this did not happen for reasons that are not clear.
In most cases, the ministers involved were unaware of the need to share power with Morrison. The scheme was also not known in Parliament. In one instance, Morrison used his authority to reverse the official minister’s decision. For example, he halted a project involving offshore gas exploration, even though Minister Pitt was in favor of it.
`Unprecedented, unheard of, and wrong’
Bill makes mincemeat from Morrison’s rationale that he needs the powers due to the exceptional circumstances during the Corona pandemic. He argued that he could immediately replace fallen ministers in crucial administrations, but Peel notes that temporary ministers could be appointed quickly when needed.
Albanese, Morrison’s successor, responded to the investigation’s findings: “The conduct of the former prime minister was unprecedented, unheard of, and wrong.” He spoke of a cult of secrecy and concealment in which scrutiny by Parliament was seen as an annoying inconvenience.
Albanese plans to adopt six reforms proposed by Bell. For example, he wants to demand disclosure of cabinet appointments, the loophole Morrison used to keep the extension of his power a secret.
Meanwhile, Morrison insists the arrangement is legal and says national security restrictions prevent him from fully explaining everything. This makes it difficult for third parties to reach conclusive conclusions on this issue. “
There is a possibility that Morrison could receive another formal reprimand: because he became an MP again after his defeat in the election, he might be sanctioned there.
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