SYDNEY — Scott Morrison said on Wednesday it was necessary to give himself additional powers when he was Australia’s prime minister during the coronavirus crisis, as criticism mounted, the moves were deceptive and undemocratic.
Current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is asking the Solicitor General for advice on the legality of some of Morrison’s moves.
Many of Morrison’s own colleagues were taken aback by his decision to secretly nominate himself to five ministerial positions, which have only been revealed in recent days. Some have called for him to resign from parliament, where he is now an opposition MP, after losing the Albanian general election earlier this year.
But Morrison told reporters in Sydney that while he apologized for offending his colleagues, he stood by his actions.
The expectation early on in the COVID-19 crisis was that as prime minister, he would be responsible for everything — “every drop of rain, every strain of the virus, everything that happened during that period,” Morrison said. “I believed it was necessary to have authority, to have what were essentially emergency powers, to practice in extreme situations that would be unforeseen, which would allow me to act in the national interest.”
He said he would rather be criticized for crossing the line than take no action. When asked why he hadn’t notified his own cabinet colleagues of the appointments, let alone the wider public, Morrison said his actions could be misunderstood.
“I was concerned that these issues could be misinterpreted and misunderstood, and undermined ministers’ confidence in the performance of their duties at the time, and I did not think that was in the best interest of the country,” Morrison said.
Albanian revealed Tuesday that Morrison was appointed Minister of Health, Finance, Home Affairs, Finance and Industry between March 2020 and May 2021. News Corp. media had revealed some of the arrangements over the weekend.
“How about an apology to the Australian people?” Albanian said after Morrison spoke. “The Australian people went to an election without knowing it had happened, not knowing there was a shadow government operating in darkness.”
Albanian told reporters in Brisbane that he found it incomprehensible that the appointments were not publicly announced at the time. He alluded to the secrecy in the movie ‘Fight Club’.
“The first rule of power-grab club is that you shouldn’t talk about power-grab club, and Scott Morrison broke that rule today,” Albanian said. “Scott Morrison was evasive, he was defensive, he was passive-aggressive and of course, he was self-serving. So at least he was true to himself today.”
Morrison used his extra powers at least once, to overturn a decision by former minister Keith Pitt to approve a controversial gas project off the coast of New South Wales.
Pitt said in a statement that he was unaware that Morrison jointly oversaw his ministerial portfolio and that he stands behind the decisions he made at the time.
At the time, Morrison said he vetoed the project in his capacity as prime minister, and did not say he had joint oversight of the portfolio.
Morrison said on Wednesday that there were different circumstances in that particular case than with his pandemic-related portfolios, and he stood by his decision that he believed was in the national interest.
Morrison’s appointments were authorized by Governor General David Hurley, who said he was following processes consistent with the Constitution by signing an “administrative instrument on the advice of the Prime Minister” – that was Morrison – to grant Morrison the additional powers. to give.
Karen Andrews, who was home secretary under Morrison, said Morrison never told her he was being nominated to the portfolio as well. She said Morrison should resign.
“The Australian people have been abandoned, they have been betrayed,” she said. “For a former Prime Minister to have behaved that way, to be secretly sworn into other portfolios, undermines the Westminster system, it is absolutely unacceptable.”
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