Scott Morrison is under pressure to resign from Federal Parliament after revelations the former prime minister secretly seized control of five major portfolios during the pandemic.
Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews accused Mr Morrison of a "betrayal of trust" and has called on him to quit politics, after he appointed himself to the portfolio without telling her or the public.
The Canberra Times has also spoken to another Coalition frontbencher who believes the best way forward for the party is for Mr Morrison to leave parliament as soon as possible.
Mr Morrison has apologised to his colleagues "for any offence" but insisted he took the unprecedented decisions in "good faith".
The former prime minister said he only used the powers once - to scuttle a controversial gas exploration permit off the NSW coast while secretly serving as resources minister.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton defended the former leader while former deputy prime minister Michael McCormack said the secrecy was justified to avoid alarming the public.
But other Coalition figures such as Darren Chester say there was "no justification" for keeping the appointments under wraps and independent ACT Senator David Pocock said the controversy was "embarrassing" for Australian democracy.
Josh Frydenberg was reportedly never told Mr Morrison had appointed himself as co-Treasurer, while departmental secretaries, including Home Affairs head Mike Pezzullo and Treasury boss Steven Kennedy, were also kept in the dark.
The secret portfolio scandal deepened on Tuesday after Mr Albanese revealed the full extent of his predecessor's extraordinary power grab, which he described as an "unprecedented trashing of the Australian democracy".
Mr Albanese said Mr Morrison had secretly appointed himself to the health, finance, home affairs, treasury and resources portfolios between March 2020 and May 2021.
He said he was open to changes to ensure that details about ministerial appointments weren't kept secret in the future.
"I cannot conceive of the mindset that has created this," Mr Albanese told reporters.
"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."
Governor-General David Hurley signed off on Mr Morrison's appointments, 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.
The prime minister expects to receive advice from the solicitor-general on Mr Morrison's power grab next Monday.
He indicated it was too early to say what possible punishments could be in store for the Cook MP or his colleagues, but said they must be held to account.
The Greens are seeking urgent advice on referring Mr Morrison to parliament's powerful privileges committee for a separate investigation.
The party's justice spokesman, David Shoebridge, said the scandal was further evidence of the need for a federal anti-corruption commission.
Mr Morrison published a lengthy open letter on the his Facebook page responding to the storm of criticism surrounding the secret appointments.
He insisted the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated "extraordinary measures".
"I did so in good faith, seeking to exercise my responsibilities as Prime Minister which exceeded those of any other member of the Government, or Parliament," he wrote.
Mr Morrison claimed he did not remember being given power over treasury and home affairs until he was briefed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet recently.
"In hindsight these arrangements were unnecessary ... I had not recollected these arrangements having been put in place. There was a lot going on at the time," he wrote.
Ms Andrews responded furiously to the revelations, telling The Canberra Times that her former boss should resign from parliament for the "unacceptable conduct".
"It is unacceptable for a prime minister to do that and basically subvert cabinet processes," she said.
"For him not to have discussed it with me as the minister responsible for home affairs at the time, I believe is unacceptable and it is a betrayal of trust that the people of Australia put in him to lead the government."
Former veterans affairs minister Darren Chester said the secrecy couldn't be justified.
"I've read the former Prime Minister's explanation for his actions and I can't accept the need for secrecy," he said in a statement.
"I agree these were extraordinary times but there was no justification for hiding these arrangements from the Parliament and the people of Australia."
But the Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has urged calm as investigations continue. In a split from Ms Andrews, he said would not be asking Mr Morrison to resign.
"I think frankly it's time for cooler heads to prevail," he told reporters in Tasmania.
"The Prime Minister's come out of his holiday swinging and, obviously, this is an issue that he'll get his teeth into. But there are bigger issues that, frankly, the families of Australia are dealing with at the moment. So let's wait for the Prime Minister's process."
Asked by The Canberra Times if Mr Morrison should be considering his position as Cook MP, the Prime Minister indicated his predecessor has some thinking to do.
"I think the people of Cook deserve to be represented by someone who is interested in our parliamentary democracy and in day-to-day politics," Mr Albanese said.
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