Australia news LIVE: Fallout continues after revelations Scott Morrison swore himself into five portfolios while PM

Key posts

  • Howard rejects calls for Morrison to resign
  • MPs question governor-general’s role in Morrison ministry saga
  • This morning’s key headlines at a glance
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Howard rejects calls for Morrison to resign

In case you missed it, former prime minister John Howard has rejected calls for Scott Morrison to resign from parliament.

As previously reported, former home affairs minister Karen Andrews – a federal Liberal MP from Queensland – called on Morrison to resign after learning during a press conference that her portfolio had been co-opted back in May 2021.

Former prime minister John Howard. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Here’s what Howard told the ABC’s 7.30 last night:

I don’t think he should [resign]. Apart from anything else, it’s not in the interest of the Liberal Party to have a by-election in a very safe seat.

I don’t think it’s something that’s so reeking in principle as warranting an unnecessary, expensive by-election.

Howard is due to be interviewed on Sydney-based radio station 2GB later this morning. Stay tuned.

MPs question governor-general’s role in Morrison ministry saga

A government MP has taken the extraordinary step of suggesting Governor-General David Hurley’s position may be untenable because of his role in secretly appointing former prime minister Scott Morrison to five extra ministerial portfolios.

But a legal expert says it was Morrison who had “violated a basic constitutional precept” by bringing the governor-general and the Crown into disrepute.

Governor-General David Hurley.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Yesterday, it was revealed that Morrison had been jointly appointed to oversee five departments – health, finance, home affairs, treasury, and industry, science, energy and resources – in 2020 and 2021 without the knowledge of most of his senior ministers, including some whose responsibilities he took on.

Labor member for Bruce Julian Hill says while Morrison is ultimately to blame, he had “embroiled the governor-general and his entire former cabinet” in the saga.

It is extremely rare for sitting MPs to criticise the governor-general. It is also unclear whether, and to what extent, Hurley did question the then-prime minister before proceeding with the secret ministerial appointments.

Read the full story here.

This morning’s key headlines at a glance

Good morning and thanks for your company.

It’s Wednesday, August 17. I’m Broede Carmody and I’ll be anchoring our live coverage for the first half of the day.

Here’s what you need to know before we get started.

  • Katina Curtis and James Massola write that MPs are questioning Governor-General David Hurley’s role in the Scott Morrison ministry saga. Yesterday, we learnt that Morrison was jointly appointed to oversee five departments in 2020 and 2021 without the knowledge of the Australian public or, in some instances, his own colleagues. Those departments were health, finance, home affairs, treasury, and industry, science, anergy and resources. Former home affairs minister Karen Andrews has called on Morrison to resign from parliament.
  • Universities will have to bid for the 20,000 extra places promised by the federal government, according to Lisa Visentin. The plan is to ensure those degrees are allocated to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
  • In NSW, Premier Dominic Perrottet has conceded that several “fundamental errors” meant John Barilaro’s appointment to a US trade role was flawed from the outset (the former deputy premier subsequently walked away from the position). Perrottet says legislative change will toughen the rules governing when and how former politicians can apply for public service jobs.
  • And in an Australian first, an independent authority to help the Victorian government negotiate treaties with First Nations peoples will be established after legislation passed the state’s upper house yesterday afternoon. Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says her state is planning to go down a similar path.
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