Scott Morrison held five secret portfolios during the pandemic, including Home Affairs and Treasury, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has revealed.
"He [Scott Morrison] told us he was a bulldozer and his Coalition colleagues just shrugged their shoulders and cheered him on, not in one election but in two elections," Mr Albanese said.
"Turns out, he was the world's first stealth bulldozer. Operating in secret, keeping the operations of the government from the Australian people themselves."
Mr Albanese fronted reporters in Parliament House after further briefings from his department head on explosive revelations that his predecessor was secretly sworn into multiple portfolios during the pandemic.
The new prime minister accused the former government of an "extraordinary and unprecedented trashing of the Australian democracy", and of deliberately undermining the principles of the Westminster system.
Mr Albanese indicated it was too early to say what possible punishments could be in store for Mr Morrison or his colleagues, but said they must be held to account.
He said he was open to changes to ensure that details about ministerial appointments weren't kept secret.
Mr Albanese said he expected to receive advice from the solicitor-general on Mr Morrison's use of the "extraordinary powers" next Monday.
"I cannot conceive of the mindset that has created this," Mr Albanese said.
"I cannot conceive of the way that the government has functioned that have led to a point whereby someone says: 'I'm the prime minister of Australia - I'd also like to be in charge of health, finance, treasury, industry, science, home affairs, resources.
"I cannot conceive of how that occurs."
Scott Morrison broke his silence on Tuesday morning to defend his decision to appoint himself to the health, finance and resources portfolios .
Governor-General David Hurley swore Mr Morrison into the portfolios, but the public and most members of cabinet were never told.
Mr Albanese didn't criticise Mr Hurley's role in the scandal, saying he was acting on the advice of the government.
"I think it's very clear here that the responsibility for this undermining of our parliamentary democracy rests with those people in the Morison government."
Mr Albanese revealed that Mr Morrison was appointed health minister alongside Greg Hunt on March 14, 2020. He took on the finance portfolio on March 30, 2020.
He secretly handed himself control of home affairs and took on joint oversight of Treasury on May 6, 2021.
Mr Morrison become the minister responsible for the department of industry, energy, science and resources on April 15, 2021.
"It is completely extraordinary that these appointments were kept secret by the Morrison government from the Australian people," Mr Albanese said.
The secret power grab - which Mr Albanese described on Monday as unprecedented - allowed Mr Morrison to override then-resources minister Keith Pitt to reject a contentious gas exploration permit of the NSW coast.
Mr Morrison said he was acting in an "unconventional time and an unprecedented time", but stressed there were safeguards in place.
"Boris Johnson almost died one night. We had ministers go down with COVID," he told Sydney's 2GB radio.
"The powers in those portfolios, they weren't overseen by cabinet. The minister ... in both cases had powers that few, if any, ministers in our federation's history had.
"We had to take some extraordinary measures to put safeguards in place. None of these in the case of the finance and health portfolios were ever required to be used."
More to come
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