Malaysia’s ex-pm Malcolm Turnbull slams Governor-General for secretive appointments

Malaysia’s ex-pm Malcolm Turnbull slams Governor-General for secretive appointments

Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull says he is astonished that the Governor-General was willing to go along with Scott Morrison's secretive appointment to multiple portfolios within his own cabinet.

Mr Turnbull blasted his successor and former treasurer for taking on the ministerial roles - including health, finance and resources - without telling the public or in some cases the existing ministers.

This is one of the most appalling things I have ever heard in the federal government. Is it true that a prime minister would be secretly sworn in to other ministries? Mr Turnbull said he was amazed that the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet had gone along with the appointments, which have now come to light through media reports sourced from court documents.

He said that he was astonished that the Governor-General, David Hurley, was involved.

Morrison's secret ministries were completely different from routine arrangements in which ministers act in different roles while a colleague is unwell or on leave, according to Mr Turnbull, because those arrangements were made public.

We are entitled to know who is governing our country. We need to know who is the minister for this, who is the minister for that. If all these things are done secretly, that's not a democracy. A spokeswoman for the Governor-General said today that Mr Morrison was appointed to his extra portfolios in normal process, consistent with the constitution.

The statement states that the questions around appointments of this nature are a matter for the government of the day and the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

The decision on whether to publicise appointments to administer additional portfolios is a matter for the government of the day. 7.30 asked the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet if it had prepared papers or a briefing on the appointments of the Executive Council, which is the body that advises the Governor-General.

The department did not respond directly, but just confirmed that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had asked it to give advice on this matter. Former Liberal prime minister Mr Turnbull has also thrown his weight behind the upcoming 'yes' campaign to create an Indigenous body that advises the parliament, which is enshrined in the constitution.

Turnbull regretted describing the proposal as a third chamber of parliament while he was prime minister.

Mr Turnbull said that he regrets using that term because it was misunderstood.

I didn't intend to convey the idea that it would be a third chamber like the Senate is a second chamber. Mr Turnbull said he still had reservations about the model and stressed that it would be a big change to power dynamics in Indigenous affairs, not mere symbolism.

He said that our parliamentary democracy can handle it.

He said a yes' campaign would have been doomed while he was leading, but the momentum behind the idea now meant it was a winnable proposition.

I say that with great trepidation. There is a lot of work to be done, he said.