Watch Scott Morrison’s live press conference today as colleagues demand his resignation after a secret
The Crossbenchers are leading the charge of parliamentary inquiries into the actions of former Prime Minister Scott Morrison, as their colleagues demand his resignation.
Independent MP Sophie Scamps has called for the matter to be referred to Parliament’s Privileges Committee, which hears complaints of breach of privilege or contempt.
Scott Morrison speaks to reporters. Watch the LIVE press conference in the video player above
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“Is this a precedent for the future behavior of future leaders who think they might want to have more power?” she asked on ABC on Wednesday.
“Or will it be something we see as an abuse of power and privilege?”
Independent Senator Jacqui Lambie wants the saga referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee, saying she could recommend changes to the legislation.
“If it’s not illegal, there’s not much parliament can do. Unless they change the rules about it, sending it to the privileges committee is probably not the way to go,” Lambie told the ABC.
She said it was important to make sure Australia was not a “dictatorship”.
See how the scandal outrage unfolded
The repercussions of the former prime minister’s appointment to the finance, treasury, health, home affairs and resources portfolios remain unknown, with the solicitor general preparing advice for Anthony Albanese to be delivered on Monday.
Morrison apologized to colleagues for secretly swearing in their portfolios, but issued a strong defense of his actions, saying the COVID-19 pandemic required a unique response.
But constitutional lawyer Anne Twomey said legal systems were already in place, with acting ministers able to be appointed when a minister is sick or on leave.
“If he really thought there was a problem with the existing system, wouldn’t you have created a new system?” she said on Sky News.
“There seems to be this presidential view of, ‘Hey, I’m the boss, so I have to be in charge of everything.’
“It’s a real denial of the current system of government that we have. The Prime Minister, at most, is the first among equals.
Labor leader Jason Clare told the AAP the government would wait for the Solicitor General’s opinion before deciding how to prevent something similar from happening in the future, such as making it mandatory to publish such appointments in the Official Gazette. .
“We are open to reform,” Clare said.
“I expect Cabinet to consider both advice from the department and any advice we receive from the Solicitor General and then take further action.
“This is something that has never happened before and should never happen again.”
Albanese said his predecessor’s actions followed a pattern of secrecy.
“Scott Morrison appointed himself to a cabinet committee of one, so any meetings he had with other people he could tell they were co-opted and keep them away from freedom information,” he told 4BC radio.
“Our democracy relies on people being open and transparent about what’s going on (and) people being held accountable and that’s why this is such a shocking series of revelations.”
Liberal Party deputy leader Sussan Ley attacked the prime minister for failing to focus on the cost of living and skills shortages.
“Australians want him to focus on the issues in their lives. None of this will bring down your electricity bills,” she told Sky News.
Former Home Secretary Karen Andrews called on Morrison to resign from Parliament, saying he had ‘abandoned and betrayed’ the Australian people.
His successor Clare O’Neil said intelligence chiefs were unaware of Morrison’s self-appointment to this important role.