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Former Australian PM defends secret takeover

#Australian #defends #secret #takeover

Australia’s former leader on Wednesday defended secret arrangements he made to take oaths on key portfolios including defense and the Treasury, saying he had only used the roles in an emergency during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Revelations about Scott Morrison’s covert actions – described by his successor as creating a “shadow government” – sparked a political firestorm in Australia this week.

During a lengthy and sometimes heated press conference on Wednesday, Morrison dismissed calls to quit Parliament, including those by his own home secretary.

“In hindsight, you’re standing on the shore. I piloted the ship in the middle of the Tempest,” he said.

He faced a barrage of questions about why he had failed to tell the public – or even many of his peers – that he was giving himself the extra powers.

The Conservative former Prime Minister added that he had “no personal benefit” from being sworn in to manage five portfolios and stressed that the arrangements should only be used in emergencies, such as when a minister died during the pandemic.

Morrison said he only used the powers once, to override his resources secretary and block a controversial offshore gas project – a move he conceded was separate from the pandemic.

“I’m very happy with this decision,” he said.

“And if people think I should have made a different decision and allowed the project … well, they can make that argument.”

During his tenure, Morrison was regularly criticized for a lack of transparency – a charge that burst onto the global stage when French President Emmanuel Macron accused him of lying about an abandoned submarine deal.

Morrison’s conservative coalition lost power in the May election, ending nearly a decade of center-right rule in the country.

In Australia, elected politicians are selected by the Prime Minister before being sworn in by the Governor-General in a formal ceremony that is usually publicly recorded.

So far it is not clear whether Morrison will face political or legal consequences from the scandal.

Australia’s new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, has asked the Attorney General to advise on whether his predecessor acted lawfully.

He said Morrison’s actions were “fundamentally a destruction of our democratic system”.

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#Australian #defends #secret #takeover

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