The former prime minister quietly appointed himself to a number of roles during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying it was necessary in case ministers fell ill.
Australia will introduce new rules to increase transparency in appointing ministers after an investigation into secret ministerial roles found by then Prime Minister Scott Morrison that they had eroded public trust in government.
Morrison, who lost power in the general election in May, has secretly amassed five ministerial roles during his time in office. pandemic caused by corona virus: health, finance, treasury, resources and interior.
The three ministers later said they were unaware they were sharing power with Morrison.
An investigation led by former Supreme Court justice Virginia Bell has found that appointments can damage public trust in government. Recalling comments from the attorney general, Bell said in a report released on Friday that a lack of congressional accountability undermines responsible government.
“Once the appointments became known, the secrecy with which they were besieged would erode trust in the government,” Bell said.
Morrison said earlier the appointment was necessary during the pandemic to ensure continuity and to prevent an incapacitated minister. But the report raised doubts on both counts, arguing for example that an acting minister could have been quickly appointed if needed.
In a statement shortly after the report was released, Morrison acknowledged the criticism but defended his actions as legitimate and said he would remain in parliament where he sat on the bench after lost the May election.
“As Prime Minister, my awareness of matters related to national security and national interests is broader than that of individual Ministers and certainly to the Inquiry,” he said. said in a Facebook post.
“This limits the ability of third parties to reach definitive conclusions on such matters.”
Bell has proposed six changes, including legislation requiring public notification of ministerial appointments.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who said in August that Morrison’s actions “weakened democracy“, said his government would adopt all six recommendations.
“We are shining sunlight on a shadow government that likes to operate in the dark. Albanese said at a press conference after the report was published.
Bell notes that because Morrison’s additional powers are exercised only once, the impact of appointments is limited.
While calling the then-high-ranking official Phil Gaetjens, who prepared briefs on the appointments, did not prompt the release of more information, the investigation said responsibility for the decisions was made. belonged to the prime minister at that time.
Morrison contacted the investigation through an attorney.