At a time when democracy is under strain and threats around the world, and the trust in institutions is fragile, the decision by former prime minister Scott Morrison to secretly appoint himself to five ministries, including Treasury, is both unfathomable and alarming.
The notion that he was doing this — essentially for his own good — to protect us at a time of intense economic challenges and a health emergency smacks of arrogance and is self-serving.
If the then-prime minister believed that he needed additional powers to safeguard one of his cabinet ministers in the event of illness, why did he not tell the ministers? Why was the public kept in the dark? Why was a quiet plan hatched away from parliamentary scrutiny?
Transparency and clear lines of responsibility ensure that democracy thrives on the basis of transparency and clear lines of responsibility.
The reputation of the previous government has been damaged by Scott Morrison.
His former ministers are red hot with rage that he has acted in a way that has hurt the legacy of the previous government and damaged the brand of the Liberal Party they are desperately trying to restore.
Revelations that Morrison was appointed to five additional ministries, including treasury and home affairs, have been labelled by Anthony Albanese as an unprecedented trashing of our democracy. After investigations from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Albanese said the former prime minister may have held those positions until the Coalition's election loss in May. We were recently in an election campaign with absolutely no knowledge that he was secretly in charge of several other ministries.
Morrison told 2 GB that he doesn't remember appointing himself to any other portfolios besides the three reported — health, finance, and resources. How can I forget to make myself a treasurer? How do I forget that they are also home affairs minister?
The alarming revelations have resulted in calls for him to resign and leave parliament.
Karen Andrews, former home affairs minister, said she had no idea that the former prime minister had sworn himself into her portfolio and for a prime minister to behave this way undermines everything that a federal government constitutionally should stand for. The legal advice sought by Albanese from the solicitor-general will be available next Monday.
When asked if Albanese was critical of the Governor-General's role in Morrison's appointments, the Prime Minister said it was very clear that the responsibility was with the Morrison government.
After days of mounting outrage and an interview on 2 GB that enraged rather than calmed his former ministers, Morrison issued a statement saying that his moves to take on additional ministries were unnecessary.
He said he took the powers of health, finance, treasury and home affairs ministers because of the uncertainty of the epidemic and that he never exercised any of those powers and would have publicly announced if he was doing so.
He says that the move to take over the powers of the Department of Industry, Energy and Resources was separate from a decision on the PEP 11 offshore exploration licence.
Morrison apologised for any offence caused by his colleagues, describing them as an outstanding team who did an excellent job If they were such an outstanding team, why didn't he trust them to make decisions without him shadowing them secretly? How could Josh Frydenberg — who he lived with in Canberra during the Pandemic — not know he had a secret treasurer over the top of him? The statement by the former PM will not shut down anger or call for his resignation, and inside the coalition there is outright contempt for the man who led them to a thumping defeat.