Former Australian PM secretly assumed 5 ministries during Covid-19
Sydney, Australia, Aug 16 (EFE).- Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly assumed five ministerial positions during the Covid-19 pandemic without informing the ministers who held them, a revelation that has caused a political storm in Australia.
According to information that appeared in a book confirmed Tuesday by current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Morrison appointed himself health, finance; industry, interior and treasury minister without announcing it to the public or to the ministers of those branches. For months, they shared the roles with him without knowing it.
Albanese, Morrison’s successor in office, described these acts at a press conference in Canberra as “unprecedented” damage to his country’s democracy.
“I think Scott Morrison has to resign, and he has to leave Parliament,” said Karen Andrews, who was unaware that Morrison shared his ministry when she served as Australia’s home secretary, according to public broadcaster ABC.
The news came to light this week during the promotion of a book on Morrison’s management during the pandemic in which it is revealed that in March 2020, at the beginning of the first wave of infections, the president claimed the health and finance ministries.
A year later he also assumed the industry, science, technology and resources ministry and in May 2021 he chaired the last two: interior and treasury.
The maneuver was made possible by the participation of Australia’s Governor General David Hurley, who agreed to Morrison’s requests to be sworn in without light or stenographers.
For his part, Morrison, currently a Liberal Party legislator, justified his actions by the need to respond with “extraordinary measures” to the Covid-19 pandemic to deal with “unexpected” events such as the sudden incapacity of its ministers, as published today on Facebook.
In the Australian system, ministers have the highest authority in their department, above the prime minister, which explains the maneuver of the former prime minister.
Morrison said the decision to take over the Resources Ministry was not linked to the pandemic but to his opposition to a gas project off the Australian East Coast.
“I did not try to interfere with the ministers in the performance of their portfolio, since there were no circumstances that justified its use, except in the case of the Industry, Science, Energy and Resources Ministry,” Morrison said when referring to his veto to that project.
“If the then prime minister really believed he needed these extra powers to protect himself in case one of his ministers became ill, why didn’t he tell the ministers themselves? Why wasn’t the public informed? Why was a silent plan drawn up outside parliamentary scrutiny?” journalist Patricia Karvelas said in an ABC article.
The Australian attorney general is expected to analyze Morrison’s use of extraordinary powers and deliver a report to Albanese on Monday. EFE