The Guardian • Issue #2020


Scotty’s gotta go

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2020

With the Morrison government over, you’d think we’d have heard the end of it – but you’d be wrong!

It turns out that former prime minister Scott Morrison appointed himself as the joint minister for health, finance, resources, home affairs, and the treasury without all ministers (and the Australian public) being notified.

Speaking on the revelations, prime minister Anthony Albanese stated that:

“Australians knew during the election campaign that I was running a shadow ministry. What they didn’t know was that Scott Morrison was running a shadow government. […] The people of Australia were kept in the dark as to what the ministerial arrangements were it’s completely unacceptable […]. This is very contrary to our Westminster system. It was cynical and it was just weird that this has occurred.”

Then-health minister Greg Hunt agreed to the joint position as a safeguard in a circumstance where he was unable to perform due to COVID-19. However, it has been reported that then-finance minister Matthias Cormann was not told Mr Morrison self-appointed himself to share that portfolio. Nationals MP and then-resources minister Keith Pitt told the ABC that he “certainly made inquiries” about the appointment but accepted the position.

Albanese has ordered an investigation into Morrison’s actions.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton has attempted to remove himself from the situation while, at the same time, not fanning the flame by stating: “Obviously the then-prime minister had his reasons, his logic for it, but it was not a decision I was party to or was aware of. It was a decision-making process that he’s made […].”

Former Coalition prime minister Malcolm Turnbull told ABC’s 7.30 program that this was “one of the most appalling things I have ever heard […],” further stating that “This is sinister stuff […]. […] Scott was meant to be leading a centre-right conservative government. This is not conservative. This is throwing aside all of the traditions of Westminster parliamentary democracy.”

With politicians from both sides of the aisle either distancing or outright denouncing this behaviour, what has the man of the hour himself had to say about the recent news?

Morrison told 2GB that, “I was facing press conferences every single day […]. […] People were expecting me to be taking responsibility for all that.”

While the public expected Morrison to take responsibility for the decisions of his cabinet and be informed of what each portfolio was doing, no one expected the prime minister to literally take the responsibility out of the hands of his ministers. Additionally, what is being criticised here is not so much that the prime minister took on these portfolios but the manner in which he did it – secretively, away from public scrutiny or the scrutiny of his own party. However, we should not be surprised that Morrison – who threw in captain’s picks at the 2022 federal election – undermined his colleagues when he was prime minister. After making the noble sacrifice of choosing to take on all the responsibilities of all those portfolios, sounds like the bloke deserves a well earned break, another trip to Hawaii perhaps? It’s not like he told anyone about that either.

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