Report calls Morrison’s secret ministerial appointments ‘inconsistent’
Sydney, Australia, Aug 23 (EFE).- The self-appointments of former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison in five ministerial positions between 2020 and 2021 were legal, but the secrecy around them was “inconsistent” with the practices of a “responsible government,” according to a report published Tuesday.
“The end result is that, to the extent that the public and Parliament were not informed of the appointments made under section 64 of the Constitution, the principles of responsible government are fundamentally undermined,” Australian Attorney-General Stephen Donaghue’s report read.
The document was requested last week by the country’s current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, after confirming that his predecessor Scott Morrison assumed the posts of Health, Finance, Interior, Treasury, as well as Industry, Science and Energy and Resources Minister between March 2020 and May 2021.
These appointments, which came to light after the publication of a book on Morrison’s pandemic management, were made without informing the Australian people, or many of the leaders of those branches, who for months shared the wallet with him unknowingly.
To co-assume these positions, Morrison relied on Article 64 of the Australian Constitution, which allows Governor General David Hurley to appoint the ministers.
The secret maneuver of assuming these positions is explained because in the Australian system the ministers have the highest authority in their portfolio above the chief executive, which allowed Morrison to oppose a gas exploration project last year, beyond his special powers due to the pandemic.
However, the prosecutor’s report exempts the governor general from responsibility, since he considers that he did not have the discretionary power to refuse the request of the then prime minister.
Presenting the report Tuesday at a Canberra press conference, the prime minister said “Scott Morrison owes the Australian people an apology for undermining our democratic parliamentary system of government that we have, which cannot be taken for granted.”
He also said the Cabinet decided to deepen investigations into the legal implications of Morrison’s self-appointments, although he did not provide further details on those investigations.
He also directed the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to work with the Office of the Official Secretary to the Governor General to make future appointments public through the official gazette.
Morrison said last week that the secrecy was justified over “the great risk that in the midst of the (pandemic) crisis, the use of those powers will be misunderstood” and cause “unnecessary distress” that disrupts the “day-to-day running of the government.” EFE