Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who was revealed to have secretly appointed 5 key ministerial posts during the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia, defended himself by saying, “I did the right thing in the national interest.”
Expressing that Morrison “throws the democratic system in the trash”, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that an investigation will be launched against Morrison.
Morrison, who resigned as Liberal Party leader after losing the general election in May, held a press conference to respond to criticism from the Labor government and his own party.
“I would prefer to be criticized for going beyond my limits rather than not taking action,” said Morrison, and when asked why he did not inform the ministers as well as the public about the appointments, he said that the steps he took could be “misunderstood”.
“I was concerned that these issues might be misunderstood and misunderstood and undermine the confidence of ministers in carrying out their duties at the time, and I did not think it was in the interest of the country,” Morrison said.
Reminding how the epidemic hit Australia in 2020, Morrison said, “I was managing the ship in the middle of the storm. Only I could understand the weight of the responsibility on my shoulders as the Prime Minister, no one else.”
Morrison said he did not “take over” ministries and that no ministers were interfered with, except when he rejected a resource project.
“Former Prime Minister’s decision is dictatorial”
After hearing Morrison’s press conference, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the former Prime Minister attacked the Westminster government system by secretly appointing himself to five ministerial positions between 2020-2021, including interior, treasury, health, finance and industry.
“This is the fundamental trashing of our democratic system,” said Albenese, adding that he also requested an investigation and that the attorney general’s office will present him with recommendations on the legality of the issue next Monday.
Albanese, who claimed that Morrison’s sole management of multiple ministries undermines the principle of separation of powers, evaluated the concealment of the said facts from the public as “extremely unusual”.
Three of the ministers, meanwhile, said they were unaware that Morrison shared authority over their ministry until it emerged this week.
Secretary of the Treasury Jim Chalmers said Morrison’s decision was “dictatorial” and whether he remained in parliament was a test of Liberal Opposition leader Peter Dutton’s leadership.
Karen Andrews, who served as Home Secretary in Morrison’s cabinet, said: “The Australian people have been disappointed and betrayed. For a former prime minister to behave in this way, secretly sworn to other posts, undermines the Westminster system, it is absolutely unacceptable.”
What ministerial duties did the former Prime Minister secretly take on?
Morrison’s secret assignment of ministerial duties began in 2020 with the ministries of health and finance. The former Prime Minister suggested that the reason he took on these ministries with emergency powers not controlled by parliament was “the danger of Covid-19 hitting” the country.
In May 2021, Morrison added interior and treasury to his ministerial duties. The politician said this was partly due to the ongoing negotiations with the UK and the US on the national budget and the nuclear submarines security agreement AUKUS.
The ministry of industry, which he assumed in 2021, was the only task in which he used his ministerial authority. The former Prime Minister has stopped approval of a natural gas exploration project off the coast of Australia that has been opposed by indigenous people. The decision is now in court.
Keith Pitt, then Industry Minister, said he was unaware that Morrison had joint oversight over the ministry’s portfolio and that Morrison, in his capacity as prime minister, vetoed the project.