There will be an independent investigation into the secret ministry roles the former has accepted Australian Before Prime Minister Scott Morrison was ousted three months ago.
The new Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese He released the inquiry as the Attorney General took the rare step of releasing his recommendations to the government on the matter.
“The advice is a very clear critique and critique of the consequences that exist for our democratic system,” Albanese said, describing the events as “extremely extraordinary and unprecedented.”
Albanese, who defeated Morrison in the federal election in May, has been heavily critical of his predecessor, who appointed himself to five top government portfolios – including health; finance; treasury and internal affairs; and industry, science and resources – between 2020 and 2021, largely without the knowledge of ministers holding each role.
The attorney general found Morrison’s secret appointments to the portfolios were “valid” but “not consistent with the conventions and practices” of a responsible government.
The revelations of the secret portfolios emerged last week in extracts from a book about Morrison’s tenure, based on interviews the former leader gave to the authors.
Morrison defended his actions in a lengthy Facebook post last week and on Tuesday reiterated his claim that he thought it was “prudent” to give himself powers if the minister in charge was incapacitated during the pandemic.
“I recognize that many Australians will not agree, accept or understand all the decisions I made during those difficult times,” he said. statement posted on Facebook on Tuesday.
“I can only say that I took the decisions I made as the Prime Minister with the best intentions, with good intentions.”
Some of his former colleagues are said to be angry that the Australian media did not receive coverage of what they called a “power grab”.
Former home secretary Karen Andrews, who said she was unaware Morrison had appointed herself to the job, urged him to quit politics. “He should resign and leave parliament,” Andrews told Sky News last week.
Morrison has so far resisted calls to resign.
Few details are known about the investigation and its scope, but Albanese said it would be led by “an eminent person with a legal background.” According to him, this will not be a political investigation, but “there are many questions that are clearly raised”.
Some of the questions the government wants to be answered include, “Why did this happen, how did it happen?” Who knew this was happening? What are the implications for our parliamentary system? Are there any legal implications behind the decisions made? How can we prevent this from happening again?” the prime minister said.
Morrison is known to have used the power at least once to reject a license application for gas exploration off the coast of New South Wales. The company involved, BPH Energy, is seeking a judicial review of the government’s decision to reject the application.
Albanese said Morrison’s decision to take on new roles could have other, as-yet-unknown ramifications.
The former prime minister was “health minister and industry minister at the same time we were looking at an mRNA vaccine manufacturer in Australia,” Albanese said.
And he said Morrison could influence funding decisions in the departments he holds.
“I know it is certainly not normal practice for the Prime Minister to be appointed as the final decision maker for over $800 million in grants for the production fund. Now that’s something that I think is an accountability issue,” Albanese said.
The controversy took on a life of its own on social media, where users photoshopped Morrison’s face onto images of people performing various roles. The common theme was that Morrison was everywhere, especially where you least expected him.
Morrison bucked the trend by commenting on the photos and then adding some of her own, including her face to a picture of the comedy troupe.
“It’s been so much fun joining all the memes,” Morrison wrote in the accompanying post. “But now there are so many that I can’t keep them. As Australians, we can always laugh at ourselves.”
However, Albanese made it clear that he was not embarrassed by Morrison’s attempt to brush aside the criticism.
“This undermining of the parliamentary system of government, the whole Westminster system and our traditions of democratic accountability is no laughing matter,” he said.
And on Tuesday, Albanese said Morrison should apologize to the entire country.
“Scott Morrison owes the Australian people an apology for undermining our system of parliamentary democracy.
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