Morrison must face ‘severe consequences’ for his secret ministry antics, says Marles

Scott Morrison should face “severe consequences” for secretly swearing himself into five ministries, according to the deputy prime minister, as legal advice is set to be made public.

Aug 23, 2022, updated Aug 23, 2022
Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces possible repercussions for swearing himself into various cabinet roles.(AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison faces possible repercussions for swearing himself into various cabinet roles.(AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will release advice from the solicitor-general on Tuesday on the legal implications of Morrison’s secret ministries, after being briefed on the matter on Monday.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said he had not seen the legal advice, but would be briefed on it during a cabinet meeting.

However, he said regardless of the findings of the advice, Morrison should face repercussions.

“Whatever is the legal advice, there needs to be some political consequence for a person who has flouted the Westminster cabinet system so completely,” he told ABC News on Tuesday.

“It needs to be a severe consequence, because what we saw was a total undermining.”

Calls are growing for an inquiry into the former prime minister’s actions, which saw him take on health, finance, treasury and home affairs – as well as the industry, science, energy and resources portfolio – between March 2020 and May 2021.

Morrison intervened as co-resources minister, by blocking the PEP-11 gas exploration licence off the NSW coast after then resources minister Keith Pitt approved the project.

The final decision is now the subject of a Federal Court appeal.

Morrison has maintained that was the only time he used his powers to interfere in the portfolios.

Marles said it was important for lessons to be learned from the situation so it could never be repeated.

“What has happened here is obviously a disgrace, and it’s appalling in terms of the way in which the Australian people have been treated with contempt,” he said.

“What we need to be looking at when we look at this advice (is) to make sure that there are principles in place which ensure transparency in the way government runs, transparency for the Australian people.”

There have also been calls for the role of the public service and the Governor-General to be examined, but Marles said Morrison’s conduct should be the starting point.

“We need to understand what Morrison did here as the former PM.. and look at those other questions subsequently to that,” he told ABC Radio.

“We also want to understand the legality of this so that we can make sure not only our government but governments in the future operate in a way which is transparent.”

A spokesman for the office of the Official Secretary to the Governor-General backed changing the system to a “more transparent process” to ensure appointments were made public.

Marles said any loopholes in the legal system which allowed for Morrison to appoint himself as minister would need to be closed.

The deputy prime minister said calls for Morrison to resign from parliament due to his conduct were a matter for the Liberal Party.

Liberal former home affairs minister Karen Andrews has called for Morrison to quit politics in the wake of the scandal.

The Greens have already asked House of Representatives Speaker Milton Dick to refer Morrison to the powerful privileges committee over the scandal.

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