AUSTRALIA. Sydney: Anthony Albanese, the prime minister of Australia, claimed that Scott Morrison, his predecessor, had “undermined our democracy” by secretly appointing himself minister of home affairs and treasury during the COVID-19 pandemic in addition to the previously known portfolios of health, finance, and resources.
Senior members of Morrison’s own party and its coalition partner, the National Party, who weren’t aware of the arrangements and called for his resignation as Liberal Party leader after his party lost the general election in May, have come under fire.
Following a review of the situation by the Prime Minister’s office, Albanese informed the media that Morrison had assumed the portfolios of resources, home affairs, and treasury in April 2021, health in March 2020, and finance in May 2021.
He declared that it was “absolutely astounding” that the Morrison government had kept the Australian people in the dark about these appointments.
On Monday, the solicitor general will provide Albanese with legal counsel on the matter. Albanese criticised the Morrison administration for allowing the prime minister to consolidate power.
Karen Andrews, a former home affairs minister in Morrison’s administration, claimed she was unaware that Morrison also served in that capacity and demanded his resignation from the House of Representatives.
After Albanese’s news conference, Andrews, a member of the Liberal Party, told ABC radio that “you can’t govern in a cloak of secrecy.”
According to The Australian newspaper, former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, who quit politics after losing his seat in the May election, was apparently uninformed that Morrison was in charge of the Treasury.
Before deciding on the next course of action, Peter Dutton, the leader of the Liberal opposition, said legal counsel from the solicitor general was required.
Morrison, who is still a backbencher for the Liberal Party, issued a long statement in which he expressed regret for his conduct but claimed that he had “acted in good faith in a crisis.”
Morrison defended taking on additional ministerial responsibilities during the COVID-19 epidemic without his cabinet’s knowledge, claiming that it was “an unusual period” and that the powers functioned as a precaution.
“I only ever employed such abilities once. I didn’t want to get in the way of the ministers doing their job,” he stated.
In retrospect, he continued, “these preparations were superfluous.”
It was an “oversight” that the ministers were not informed that their functions were duplicated, according to Morrison, who said in a radio interview earlier on Tuesday that he didn’t make the arrangements public since they were just a safeguard.
He compared it to having two keys on a nuclear submarine when he told radio station 2GB that “we had to take some exceptional measures to put protections in place.”
He said that the post of resources minister he assumed in 2021 was distinct since he had used his authority to block approval for a gas exploration project off the coast of Australia that was opposed by local residents. A lawsuit is being filed against the ruling.
“In the interest of the country, I think I made the proper choice. This was the only issue I directly became involved with this department or any other,” he claimed.
The fact that two people were in charge of the resources portfolio and held divergent viewpoints, according to Albanese, was troubling.
He said earlier on Tuesday that failing to disclose to the legislature who was in charge of each ministerial ministry was “a very evident breach of the duty that the prime minister has to the parliament.”
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