Scott Morrison’s ministries: Anthony Albanese says ‘there may well be more’ – Australia news live

Key events

Josh Butler

Government searching for legal papers

PM Albanese says he doubted Scott Morrison would have received extra pay for taking on additional secret ministry portfolios, but is still getting further legal advice.

Albanese said the government is still searching for the legal papers that allowed these arrangements to happen. The PM told RN Breakfast he was getting another legal briefing today, and that “this morning I expect to receive more detail on how this occurred”.

ABC Melbourne is also reporting he will appear on that radio station at 8.30am, to answer more questions.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Albanese criticises Morrison’s response he doesn’t engage in “day to day politics”

PM Albanese claimed the actions of Scott Morrison had “called into question some of those decisions” made by the former government, as he awaits further legal briefings on the implications of Morrison’s secret ministry positions.

Albanese told RN breakfast that he was seeking advice from the Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet on “a range of issues”, but declined to comment specifically on the PEP-11 gas exploration project, which was rejected by the former Coalition government after Morrison reportedly took over that portfolio last year.

Albanese was also critical of Morrison’s response yesterday that he doesn’t engage in “day to day politics”, in declining to give comment on the reports. Albanese pointed out that Morrison was still a member of parliament, representing his local electorate of Cook.

He said:

The idea the Member for Cook says he doesn’t engage in day to day politics, I find quite extraordinary.

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

Government to examine whether “loopholes” need to be closed, PM says after Morrison revelations

Coming back to PM Albanese’s interview on ABC Radio.

Albanese said people in government are searching for documents that saw Scott Morrison sworn in secretly to various ministry portfolios, but said he won’t speculate yet on what implications these unprecedented arrangements may have on legal decisions made by the former government.

The new PM told RN Breakfast he was “shocked” by revelations that Morrison had sworn himself in as minister for health, finance and resources. He said he was “not going to pre-empt” what his department will tell him in further briefings this morning, but that the new government may examine whether any “loopholes” need to be closed to prevent this happening in future.

At numerous points in the interview, Albanese stopped short of criticising or endorsing the actions of Governor General David Hurley, who yesterday acknowledged that he had sworn Morrison into other portfolios during the Coalition government. Albanese said Hurley had acted on the advice of the former PM.

The Governor General’s job is to take the advice of the government of the day. He did that… I don’t intend to pass judgement there.

It’s a matter for him, he acted upon advice… the questions I have are for the former government.

Nationals leader says Morrison needs to provide an explanation

Reactions continue to come in after revelations the former prime minister Scott Morrison secretly swore himself in as joint minister for three portfolios.

As the prime minister Anthony Albanese continues to discuss the matter on ABC Radio, the Nationals leader David Littleproud appeared on ABC Breakfast News a little earlier saying Morrison needs to provide an explanation.

It is important that Mr Morrison gives an explanation, so that there’s clarity. There’s understanding. The institution of cabinet is a very important one, and part of the executive government of the democracy that we hold dear. And so it’s important that there is trust within that institution, particularly cabinet. And that’s why I think the best thing that could happen now is Mr Morrison gives an explanation and clarity around the decisions that he made around signing himself into the three portfolios.

When asked whether the former prime minister swore himself in as agriculture minister, Littleproud said: “I can’t tell you that, but I presume not. And I hope not.”

Nationals leader David Littleproud.
Nationals leader David Littleproud. Photograph: Jane Dempster/AAP

‘There may well be more’: Albanese on Morrison’s secret ministries

Josh Butler

Josh Butler

“There may well be more” ministries that Scott Morrison had himself secretly sworn into, prime minister Anthony Albanese says, as he flags further disclosures on the unprecedented arrangements today.

Albanese said he got one legal briefing from his department yesterday, and will get another this morning, after reports Morrison was sworn in as minister for finance, health and resources through the pandemic. “I’ll be having more to say,” he told Radio National this morning.

Asked if there may be other ministries that Morrison was sworn into (as has been alluded to in some media reports), Albanese said: “There may well be more.”

‘I’ll be having more to say’: Anthony Albanese on Scott Morrison’s many ministries
‘I’ll be having more to say’: Anthony Albanese on Scott Morrison’s many ministries Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Albanese not ruling out that Morrison may have appointed himself to other portfolios

“There may well be more, but I’ll have more to say about that after I’ve been properly briefed” – Anthony Albanese not ruling out that Scott Morrison may have given himself MORE than three extra portfolios (health, resources, finance). #auspol

— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) August 15, 2022

Regional job focus ahead of skills summit

Regional employment will be on the agenda when groups meet for talks ahead of the government’s jobs and skills summit, AAP reports.

The regional affairs minister Catherine King will meet virtually with industries, unions and peak bodies today for the first of four roundtable discussions taking place before the summit.

The jobs and skills summit, set to take place over two days in September, will bring together 100 people from government, unions, businesses and civil society.

The roundtables will go on to inform the key talking points at the summit in Canberra.

Ways skilled workers could be encouraged to move to the regions, along with improving liveability and housing affordability, are set to be among the topics for discussions during the meeting.

King said she aimed to help build more productive workforces, particularly in regional communities where skill shortages exist.

We also want to create even more opportunities for Australians to get ahead and reach their aspirations, while bolstering incomes and living standards.

I’m committed to ensuring voices from right across these sectors are heard and represented to ensure we achieve these outcomes.

Good morning!

The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has ordered for his department to seek legal advice over the former prime minister Scott Morrison’s decision to secretly appoint himself as minister of health, finance and resources at various times in office.

Keith Pitt, the former minister for resources, said he was unaware Morrison had joint oversight of his portfolio but on ABC Radio earlier this morning would only go so far to say it was “unusual”. He wouldn’t be pressed to say more because the matter is now before the court.

My colleagues Sarah Martin and Lisa Cox report:

Scott Morrison’s decision to use extraordinary ministerial powers to block the controversial Pep11 gas exploration licence off the coast of NSW is being challenged in the federal court, with the proponent accusing the former prime minister of “bias” that denied procedural fairness.

Federal court documents obtained by Guardian Australia also suggest that Morrison’s decision to block the permit renewal as the joint decision-maker came despite the National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator (Nopta) recommending in April 2020 that the exploration project’s licence be extended.

Pitt also accused Albanese of “playing politics” over the investigation into Morrison’s ministerial appointments. Albanese will be appearing on ABC Radio shortly after 7.30 and we will bring you his comments.

The former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull called the news sinister and appalling last night on ABC’s 7.30:

I’m astonished that Mr Morrison thought he could do it, astonished that prime minister and cabinet went along with it.

I’m even more astonished that the governor general was party it to. This is sinister stuff.

The Independent MP Helen Haines is also among those voicing their alarm. She said on ABC Breakfast News this morning that Australians “deserve an explanation” over what she says is an “astonishing set of circumstances.”

Let’s jump in!

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