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Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to five ministries while serving as the country’s chief, revelations that have sparked outrage in Australia and calls for legal inquiries over the former leader’s conduct, the Guardian reported Tuesday.
Current Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his predecessor had taken over five federal departments between March 2020 and May 2021, including health, finance and industry. His announcement came following an investigation by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Albanese said the self-appointments were done without any official announcement or record of Morrison being sworn in. He added that the move gave Morrison decision-making powers for those crucial areas and few in his cabinet knew they were sharing responsibilities with the prime minister.
The disclosures have sent the Australian government and public into a tailspin, with no one able to explain why the appointments were essential or why Australians were kept in the dark.
Albanese called his predecessor’s actions an “unprecedented trashing of our democracy” and said he was waiting for legal advice on potential ramifications, the BBC noted.
Morrison, however, apologized to his colleagues “for any offense”, but defended his actions “as a ‘break glass in case of emergency’ safeguard” during the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, he is currently facing calls to resign from parliament, where he is currently serving as a backbencher in the Liberal Party.