Watch Scott Morrison live press conference today as colleagues demand his resignation after secretAugust 25, 2022
Crossbenchers are leading the charge for parliamentary inquiries into the actions of former prime minister Scott Morrison, as colleagues demand his resignation.
Independent MP Sophie Scamps has called for the matter to be referred to parliament’s privileges committee, which reports on complaints of breaches of privilege or contempt.
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“Is it a precedent for future behaviour by future leaders who feel that they may want to have more power?” she asked on the ABC on Wednesday.
“Or will it be something that we regard as a misuse of power and privilege?”
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie wants the saga referred to the Senate’s legal and constitutional affairs committee, saying it could recommend changes to legislation.
“If it’s not illegal, there’s not a lot the parliament can do. Unless they’re going to change the rules on this, sending it to the privileges committee probably isn’t the way to go,” Lambie told the ABC.
She said it was important to ensure Australia was not a “dictatorship”.
See how the outrage of the scandal unfolded
The repercussions of the former prime minister appointing himself to the finance, treasury, health, home affairs and resources portfolios remain unknown, with the solicitor-general preparing advice for Anthony Albanese to be delivered on Monday.
Morrison has apologised to his colleagues for having secretly sworn himself into their portfolios but launched a staunch defence of his actions, saying the COVID-19 pandemic required a unique response.
But constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey says legal systems were already in place, with acting ministers able to be appointed when a minister is sick or on leave.
“If he really thought there was some problem with the existing system, wouldn’t you have created a new system?” she said on Sky News.
“It seems there’s this presidential view of, ‘Hey, I’m the leader, therefore I must have responsibility for everything’.
“That’s a real denial of the actual system of government we’ve got. The prime minister, at most, is the first amongst equals.”
Labor frontbencher Jason Clare told AAP the government will wait for advice from the solicitor-general before deciding how to prevent something similar happening in future, such as making it mandatory to gazette such appointments.
“We’re open to reform,” Clare said.
“I expect cabinet will consider both the advice from the department and any advice we receive from the solicitor-general and then take further steps.
“It’s something that never happened before and shouldn’t happen again.”
Albanese said the actions of his predecessor followed a pattern of secrecy.
“Scott Morrison appointed himself to a cabinet committee of just one, so any meetings he had with other people he could say they were co-opted and keep it away from freedom of information,” he told radio 4BC.
“Our democracy relies on people being open and transparent about what’s going on (and) people being accountable and that’s why this is such a shocking series of revelations.”
Deputy Liberal leader Sussan Ley attacked the prime minister for not focusing on the cost of living and skills shortages.
“Australians want him to focus on the issues in their lives. Nothing in this is going to bring down your power bills,” she told Sky News.
Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews has called on Morrison to resign from parliament, saying he “let down and betrayed” the Australian people.
Her successor Clare O’Neil said intelligence chiefs were unaware of Morrison’s self-appointment to the important role.