Former Australian prime minister’s secret appointments eroded confidence in government

Archive – Former Prime Minister of Australia Scott Morrison – AAPIMAGE / DPA

The inquiry against former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison for secretly assuming roles in up to five ministries led by former High Court judge Virginia Bell has led to the conclusion that the former head of government’s actions eroded confidence in institutions.

Bell has ruled that Morrison’s self-appointment of several ministerial portfolios during the last two years of his tenure was «corrosive» to confidence in the Executive, so the former judge has recommended new laws requiring public notification of the assumption of office, the ABC has reported.

Among the suggestions, Bell has proposed improving transparency, accountability and restoring public confidence in Australian democracy.

The former High Court judge has refuted Morrison’s claims that he granted himself the powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this regard, she has responded that the self-appointments to the Treasury, Interior or Industry portfolios had «little or no connection to the pandemic.» Morrison, in turn, was appointed Minister of Health and Economy.

In addition, Bell has revealed that the former prime minister sought advice to take over the Environment post, «but ultimately decided not to continue.»

DECISIONS IN PERIOD OF CONSIDERABLE URGENCY Morrison has assured, following the publication of the report, that during his term of office he sought to exercise his «responsibilities in a manner that would best promote and protect Australia’s national interests and the welfare of the Australian people.»

«This was done during a time of significant challenges not seen since World War II and the Great Depression,» he said in a statement posted on his Facebook social network profile.

He added that he was «pleased that through these efforts, and many others, Australia has been able to emerge from this period of significant crisis in a more secure and prosperous position than almost any other country in the world».

The former head of government has indicated that he has noted the criticism of his decisions, but reiterated that he took them «during an extremely challenging period, when considerable urgency was needed».

«I note that criticisms of my decisions have been made after the fact and with the benefit of them,» he has asserted. «As prime minister, my knowledge of issues related to the national interest was broader than individual ministers were aware of,» he has added.