Albanese to receive legal advice on Morrison

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is set to receive advice from the solicitor-general on whether Scott Morrison breached any rules after he secretly appointed himself to five portfolios.

Aug 22, 2022, updated Aug 22, 2022
Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Photo: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Morrison took on the health, finance, treasury, home affairs, industry, science, energy and resources portfolios between March 2020 and May 2021.

One decision was to block the PEP-11 gas exploration licence off the NSW coast, which is the subject of a Federal Court appeal.

The advice will be handed down to Albanese today, who has said he wants reform to ensure a presidential-style acquisition of powers can’t happen again in the Westminster system.

“There’s separate questions about the functioning of our democracy, about conventions and whether any conventions have been overturned and whether there’s a need for any reforms required to ensure that something like this can never happen again,” Albanese told Sky News on Sunday.

“Very clearly, there’s a need for proper scrutiny of what occurred here, this was an undermining of our parliamentary democracy.”

Former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce revealed he didn’t push back against Morrison’s increased powers or blocking of the gas project because he thought his party would lose the extra portfolio it had gained.

Joyce said he was never explicitly told by Morrison that he had appointed himself as resources minister, but eventually found out “obliquely”.

He said he had negotiated an extra ministry for the Nationals, which would have been taken off them had he “gone into bat” over Morrison’s actions.

“Over a period of time and discussions … it became more apparent that the prime minister had greater powers than I initially assumed,” he told the ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.

Morrison has sparked backlash after commenting on memes and posting photoshopped images of himself in various groups, including as the coach of the NRL’s Cronulla.

One of his former ministers, Karen Andrews, has called on him to quit parliament, saying he had “betrayed the Australian people”.

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The Sydney MP could also face questioning by a powerful parliamentary committee over his secret appointments.

Greens leader Adam Bandt has written to Speaker Milton Dick requesting the matter be referred to the privileges committee to investigate whether there had been a breach or contempt of parliament.

Bandt has said the committee would assess whether the former prime minister deliberately misled the lower house.


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