SYDNEY: Former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison defended taking extra ministerial roles on Tuesday without his Cabinet's knowledge during the COVID-19 epidemic, saying that the powers were an unprecedented time and that they served as a safeguard.
Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Monday that Morrison had sought to centralise power and he would seek legal advice from the Solicitor-General, Australia's second law officer.
Morrison's actions to make himself health, finance and resources minister between 2020 and 2021 have also drawn criticism from his Liberal party's coalition partner, the National Party, and former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Turnbull, as undermining Westminster parliamentary traditions.
Morrison, who lost office in a national election in May, said in a radio interview on Tuesday that he did not make the arrangements public because they were a safeguard only and ministerial powers for health and finance were not triggered.
He told radio station 2 GB that we had to take some extraordinary measures to put safeguards in place, likening it to having two keys on a nuclear submarine.
Morrison said it was an oversight and regrettable that the finance minister was not informed that his role had been duplicated.
He said that the resources minister position he took over in 2021 was different because he had used the power to stop approval for a gas drilling project off the coast of Australia, which was opposed by local communities.
He said that I wanted to be the decision maker on that one because of its importance.
He said the powers in those three portfolios were not overseen by Cabinet.