CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An inquiry into a former Australian prime minister secretly appointing himself to multiple ministries recommended Friday that all such appointments be made public in future to preserve trust in 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 the unprecedented steps of appointing himself to five ministerial roles between March 2020 and May 2021, usually without the knowledge of the existing minister.
The extraordinary power grab came to light after Morrison’s conservative coalition was voted out of office 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’re shining sunlight on a shadow government that preferred to operate in darkness, a government that operated in a cult of secrecy and a culture of coverup which arrogantly dismissed scrutiny from the Parliament and the public as a mere inconvenience,” Albanese told reporters.
Retired High Court Justice Virginia Bell in her inquiry recommended laws be created to require public notices of ministerial appointments be published as well as the divisions of ministerial responsibilities.
Morrison cooperated with the inquiry through is lawyers but did not personally give evidence.
Opposition leader Peter Dutton has previously said his and Morrison’s Liberal Party would support legislation that would prevent a repeat of such a secret accumulation of power.
Morrison, who is now an opposition lawmaker, maintains that he gave himself the portfolios of health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs as an emergency measure made necessary by the coronavirus pandemic.