Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison admitted on Wednesday 17 August that at the start of the pandemic, from March 2020, he had secretly allocated five ministerial portfolios – including those of health, finance and resources – to himself.
The Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Tuesday his predecessor of a “unprecedented disaster” of democracy. “It is quite extraordinary that these appointments have been kept secret”, he claimed. Mr Albanese sought the advice of the Attorney General to determine the legality of the actions of Mr Morrison, whom he accused of leading. “shadow government”.
During a long and heated press conference, Mr Morrison rejected calls for him to resign from Parliament. He has faced an onslaught of questions about why he did not tell the public – or even many of his fellow ministers – that he was giving himself additional powers.
“We had to take extraordinary measures to put security measures in place”, he justified himself, explaining in a confused way that he ensured the continuity of the government in the event that a minister was not available. Mr Morrison therefore stated that he only used these powers once to override his Resources Minister and block a controversial offshore gas project, while specifying that this decision was not related to the Covid-19. “I am very happy with this decision”he said.
Need stronger democratic safeguards
The former Conservative prime minister added that he had just fired “no personal gain” because he appointed himself to these various ministerial posts.
“We sometimes forget what happened two years ago and the situation we faced, it was an unprecedented time.”did mr. Morrison also argued on Tuesday during an interview with the Australian radio 2GB.
Mr Morrison’s conservative coalition lost the election in May, after almost a decade of centre-right government.
The scandal has shed light on the opaque nature of decision-making in the Australian government and raised questions about the need for stronger democratic safeguards.
In Australia, the Prime Minister selects the members of his government from the elected officials who are then sworn in by the Governor-General during an official ceremony.