Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced on Tuesday that his government will launch an investigation into former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s secret cabinet appointment, saying he must be held accountable.
Earlier in the day, the country’s Solicitor-General, Stephen Donaghue, “condemned” Morrison’s ministerial portfolio actions, but stated that they were “legal.”
However, Albanese said he received the Solicitor-General’s opinion on the matter and the validity of Morrison’s appointment to multiple portfolios.
During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021, the former prime minister secretly took over the charge of five ministries, including Health, Finance, Treasury and Home Affairs, Industry, Science and Resources, which Albanese says he had undermined the government’s checks and balances mechanism.
“In summary, the Solicitor-General has concluded that Mr Morrison was validly appointed by the Governor-General to administer the various departments to which he was appointed,” he told the reporters at a news conference in the capital Canberra.
“Quite clearly, I think that Mr Morrison’s behavior was extraordinary. It undermined our parliamentary democracy and he does need to be held accountable for it,” he added.
Last week, Morrison defended his decision to take the power over five ministries, saying he feels proud of his response to COVID-19.
“I understand the offence that some of my colleagues particularly have felt about this. I understand that and I have apologized to them,” ABC News reported, quoting Morrison as saying.
“But equally, as prime minister, only I could really understand the weight of responsibility that was on my shoulders and on no one else,” he added.