Australia PM could launch inquiry into secret ministries saga

Morrison, who stepped down as leader of the Liberal Party after losing a general election in May, secretly sworn in five key ministries during the pandemic, representing an unprecedented assumption of powers, it emerged this week.

The action has drawn criticism from the Labor government and Morrison’s own party, but the former prime minister has defended the measures on the basis that he felt the nation’s responsibility for the pandemic was his alone.

On Sunday, Albanese said the government would receive advice on Monday from the Attorney General, the country’s second-highest legal officer, on the legality of Morrison’s actions.

Albanese indicated that the government would also consider an investigation and reforms to ensure the actions could not be repeated.
“We will look at all these issues after taking advice from the Attorney General. I am running a proper cabinet government, which has the proper processes in place, and we will take that into account,” Albanese told Sky News television.

He said that while the Attorney General would advise on legal issues, there were also broader issues that needed to be investigated.
“There are separate questions about how our democracy works, about conventions and whether any conventions have been overturned, and whether there is any necessary reform to make sure something like this never happens again.” said the prime minister.

Mr Albanese has previously said Mr Morrison had attacked the Westminster system of government by secretly appointing himself to portfolios, which included home affairs, the treasury, health, finance and resources between 2020 and 2021.

Morrison has said he did not “take over” ministries after being sworn in by the governor-general, and that no minister interfered except on one occasion, when he rejected a resource bill.

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