Former prime minister Scott Morrison has spoken out after claims emerged that he secretly gave himself powers in health, finance and resource cabinets during his term in office.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced the government will be investigating the allegations, slamming Morrison’s “contempt for democratic processes”.
“Australians knew during the election campaign that I was running a shadow ministry,” Albanese said.
“What they didn’t know was that Scott Morrison was running a shadow government, a shadow government that was operating in the shadows.
“It is unbecoming, it was cynical and it was just weird that this has occurred. Australians will be scratching their heads today knowing that the Government that they thought was there wasn’t actually the Australian Government at all.
“The Australian people deserve better than this contempt for democratic processes and for our Westminster system of government, which is what we have seen trashed by the Morrison government.”
Governor-General David Hurley has confirmed Morrison was secretly sworn into the three cabinets but said his actions were “consistent with section 64 of the constitution”.
Speaking to 2GB’s Ben Fordham, Morrison said his secretive behaviour was a “safeguard” for dealing with “unprecedented” times.
“It was a safeguard in terms of how we were making decisions, you know, at a fairly extraordinary time,” he said.
“I think sometimes we forget what was happening two years ago and the situation we were dealing with, it was a very unprecedented time.
“We were dealing with unprecedented times and we had to take unconventional … extraordinary measures.”
Morrison’s secretive move has drawn wide criticism, with former PM Malcolm Turnbull slamming Morrison’s behaviour as sinister.
Former prime minister @TurnbullMalcolm says the revelations about Scott Morrison secretly appointing himself to several ministries is “sinister stuff”, and “one of the most appalling things” he has ever heard in federal government. #abc730 pic.twitter.com/6jthgXOY8c
— abc730 (@abc730) August 15, 2022
According to the ABC, Morrison is accused of using his self-appointment into the resource portfolio to block a disputed license for petroleum exploration in December 2021.
Albanese said the “extraordinary” claims could be why the Morrison government failed to adequately supply Australia with enough vaccines during the pandemic.
“Perhaps this explains why we didn’t order enough vaccines. I mean, the minister for health might have thought the prime minister was ordering them because he was also the minister for health, and he thought the minister for health was ordering them,” he said.
“The people of Australia were kept in the dark as to what the ministerial arrangements were, it’s completely unacceptable.
“This is very contrary to our Westminster system. It was cynical and it was just weird that this has occurred.”
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said he wasn’t told of Morrison’s actions.
“I wasn’t part of that decision-making process and they’re decisions that are within the domain of the prime minister,” Dutton said.
“I know as much as you do and I read about it in the paper.”