- A report into Scott Morrison’s secret ministries found he sought advice on adding a sixth portfolio to the list.
- The report by former High Court judge Virginia Bell found the actions were “corrosive of trust in government”.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the government will implement all six report recommendations.
The 159-page report found the secrecy around the appointments was likely to undermine public confidence in government and was “corrosive of trust in government”.
He again repeated his position that – even amid the challenge of the pandemic – he “at all times … sought to exercise my responsibilities in a manner that would best advance and protect Australia’s national interests and the welfare of the Australian people”.
Advice sought on a sixth portfolio
Ms Bell found the appointments were unnecessary, given Mr Morrison “could have been authorised to act as Minister for Health or Minister for Finance in a matter of minutes”.
The report found Mr Morrison only exercised his new statutory powers once, to block a petroleum exploration licence that had been approved by then-resources minister Keith Pitt.
‘Undermined public confidence in government’
“There is no consistent or well understood process for publication of the establishment of authorities to administer departments in the Government Gazette or otherwise,” he said.
Government to adopt all report recommendations
“But he does owe an apology to the Australian people that were clearly misled,” he said.
The six recommendations include legislating a requirement for a public notice on the appointment of ministers, and the creation of a public website to detail ministerial appointments.