Former prime minister Scott Morrison’s secret ministries were unnecessary, Virginia Bell’s inquiry finds

Home Politics Former prime minister Scott Morrison’s secret ministries were unnecessary, Virginia Bell’s inquiry finds
Former prime minister Scott Morrison’s secret ministries were unnecessary, Virginia Bell’s inquiry finds

The findings from the investigation into Scott Morrison’s self-appointment to secret ministries have been released.

Former High Court justice Virginia Bell says the former prime minister’s actions undermined public trust and were ultimately unnecessary.

Here are some key takeaways from the report. 

Morrison considered appointing himself to a sixth ministry

In 2020 and 2021, Scott Morrison secretly had himself appointed to administer the health, finance, treasury, home affairs and industry, science, energy and resources ministries.

On Friday, Ms Bell’s report revealed Mr Morrison looked at appointing himself to a sixth ministry: the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE).

She said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) instructed the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to prepare a brief for his appointment to administer the department. 

But Mr Morrison did not go through with it.

“Subsequently, Mr Morrison decided not to proceed with the appointment to administer DAWE,” the report says.

close up of side of Scott Morrison's face
Scott Morrison says he welcomes the inquiry’s recommendations.(ABC Alice Springs: Xavier Martin)

Ultimately, Morrison’s appointments were unnecessary 

Mr Morrison argues he appointed himself to the positions in response to the demands of the COVID pandemic and as a safeguard in case the health or finance minister became incapacitated.

However, Ms Bell found that the appointments were unnecessary. 

She said Mr Morrison could have been authorised to act for any of either ministers “in a matter of minutes” if he needed to.

PM&C noted Morrison’s appointments were ‘somewhat unusual’

Ms Bell said secretary of PM&C Phil Gaetjens thought Mr Morrison’s appointment as health and finance were appropriate considering the circumstances. 

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