An inquiry into a former Australian prime minister secretly appointing himself to multiple government departments on Friday recommended that all such appointments be made public in future to maintain trust in the government.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he would recommend his cabinet accept all of the retired judge’s recommendations at a meeting next week.
Albanese ordered the inquiry in August after revelations that his predecessor, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, had taken unprecedented action by appointing himself to five ministerial posts between March 2020 and May 2021, usually without the knowledge of the minister in square.
The extraordinary power grab came to light after Morrison’s Conservative coalition was ousted in May after nine years in power.
Albanese blamed a culture of secrecy within the former government for its leader’s extraordinary accumulation of personal power.
“We shine the sun on a shadow government that preferred to operate in obscurity, a government that operated in a cult of secrecy and a culture of cover-up that arrogantly rejected the scrutiny of Parliament and from the public as a mere inconvenience,” Albanese told reporters. .
Virginia Bell, a retired High Court judge, in her inquiry recommended that laws be created to require publication of public notices of ministerial appointments as well as the distribution of ministerial responsibilities.
Morrison cooperated with the investigation through his attorneys but did not personally testify.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has previously said his and Morrison’s Liberal Party would support legislation that would prevent the recurrence of such covert accumulation of power.
Morrison, who is now an opposition lawmaker, argues he gave himself the health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs portfolios as an emergency measure necessitated by the pandemic of coronavirus.
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