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The Australian inquiry found that Morrison’s covert roles had undermined the trust. politics news

The former prime minister quietly appointed himself to a number of roles during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it was necessary in case ministers were ill.

Australia will introduce new rules to increase transparency in ministerial appointments following an investigation into secret ministerial roles by then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison, who was voted out of power in a general election in May, has secretly amassed five ministerial roles coronavirus pandemic: Health, Finance, Treasury, Resources and Home Affairs.

Three ministers later said they did not know they were sharing power with Morrison.

An inquiry led by former High Court Justice Virginia Bell found that the appointments had hurt public confidence in the government. Echoing the Solicitor General’s comments, Bell said in a report released on Friday, that a lack of parliamentary accountability undermined responsible government.

Bell said, “Once the appointments became known, the secrecy with which they were surrounded was corrosive of confidence in the government.”

Morrison said the appointments were necessary during the pandemic to ensure continuity first, and as a precaution in case a minister is incapacitated. But the report cast doubt on both counts, arguing for example that caretaker ministers could have been quickly appointed if needed.

In a statement shortly after the release of the report, Morrison noted the criticism but called his actions legitimate and said he would remain in parliament, where he subsequently sits as a backbencher. lose the may election,

“As prime minister my awareness of issues of national security and national interest was wider than that of individual ministers and certainly of the inquiry,” he said in a Facebook post.

“This limits the ability of third parties to draw definitive conclusions on such matters.”

Bell recommended six changes, including legislation requiring public notice of ministerial appointments.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said in August that Morrison’s actions “undermine democracy”, said that his government would adopt all six recommendations.

“We are shining the light on a shadow government which prefers to operate in the dark. A government that operates in a cult of secrecy and a culture of cover-up,” Albanese told a press conference after the release of the report.

Bell said that since Morrison’s additional powers had only been exercised once, the implications of the appointments were limited.

Describing it as “disturbing” that the then senior official Phil Gaetjens, who had drawn up the brief on the appointments, had not pushed for more disclosure, the inquiry said that responsibility for decisions rested with the then prime minister.

Morrison explained the questioning through a lawyer.

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