‘Shadow government’ scandal rocks Australian politics – Reuters

In some instances, Morrison made himself co-minister without informing the cabinet members he had already appointed to those positions.



By AFP

Published: Mon 15 Aug 2022, 10:51

Revelations that Australia’s former prime minister secretly appointed himself to several cabinet posts during the pandemic sparked a political firestorm on Monday, with his successor promising a swift investigation.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has accused Scott Morrison of ‘phony activity’ after it emerged the former leader had appointed himself Minister of Health, Finance and Resources, among other posts, without informing his colleagues, Parliament or voters.

Describing Morrison’s actions as “extraordinary and unprecedented,” Albanese said Monday he had sought legal advice from the solicitor general and would be briefed later in the day.

“It’s a kind of phony activity that we would ridicule if it was in an undemocratic country,” Albanese said. “Scott Morrison ran a shadow government”

In some instances, Morrison made himself co-minister without informing the cabinet members he had already appointed to those positions.

The scandal has shed light on the opaque nature of decision-making in the Australian government – and raised questions about whether stronger democratic safeguards are needed.

It is still unclear how many positions Morrison held, but local media reported that he took over the resource portfolio and used his power to shut down a major gas project off Sydney.

Morrison’s conservative coalition lost power in May’s election, ending nearly a decade of centre-right rule in the country.

In Australia, elected politicians are selected by the Prime Minister before being sworn in by the Governor-General in an official ceremony usually recorded publicly.

Constitutional law expert Anne Twomey called the allegations “bizarre” and said they raised possible legal challenges to some of the former government’s decisions.

“The secrecy involved in all of this is just weird. I mean, you know, you just wonder what’s wrong with these people, if they have to do everything in secret,” she said.

“It’s just inappropriate. We live in a democracy, which demands transparency.”

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