Australia news live: Albanese condemns Morrison’s secret ministries as report labels them ‘corrosive of trust in government’ | Australia news

Bell releases report finding Morrison appointments were ‘unnecessary’

Former high court justice Virginia Bell has released her findings from the inquiry into Scott Morrison’s secret appointment to five additional ministries.

Bell has found that the appointment of Morrison to the ministries of health and finance were “unnecessary”.

In August, the prime minister Anthony Albanese launched the inquiry after receiving the solicitor general’s advice that the additional ministry appointments were legal but “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

Bell was tasked to report on the “facts and circumstances” of Morrison having himself appointed to administer the health, finance, industry science energy and resources, home affairs departments and treasury during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Albanese is going to be stepping up to speak at 12.30pm today to respond to the report’s findings.

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Albanese said he only just received the report:

I haven’t had the opportunity to read all of the detail but I’ve read through it outlines clearly the process of the potential appointment of the to administer the Environment and Water Department.

Albanese is asked if Morrison misled parliament:

He misled the parliament quite clearly. He’s misled the parliament every single day in which he stood there. And as the prime minister without revealing for example, the questions were asked about issues that directly were impacted, including the Pep 11 project. He was asked questions about that in the parliament, where we were entitled to know that there were two people potentially responsible for that project. But most importantly, as well as misleading parliament, he has misled the Australian people.

Albanese is now answering questions and says there are larger questions about the culture that allowed the secret ministries to occur:

What was the culture that allowed this to thrive?

How is it that Scott Morrison had the confidence to be himself to six positions?

Albanese:

This is a scathing report, which is an indictment on the Morrison government and the culture of secrecy.

Albanese:

And indeed the Australian public is entitled to know this sort of information as well and other senior public servants quoted in the report. Despite Morrison’s appointments in a range of ways.

One of the clear quotes: it was an exorbitant grab by Morrison and Parliament could not hold him to account.

Morrison sought advice on being appointed to agriculture and environment department

Albanese:

What we now know from this report today … is that Scott Morrison also sought advice at the same time on being appointed to minister of the department of agriculture, water and the environment, that [he] ultimately decided not to proceed [with].

Morrison did not agree to meet with Virginia Bell, contradicting earlier statements: Albanese

Albanese:

Mr. Morrison did not agree to meet with Virginia Bell and communicated, only through his lawyers. That contradicts the very clear statement that Scott Morrison said with this inquiry was announced, and I think will come as a surprise to people to those comments at face value.

Morrison appointments a ‘characteristic of dysfunctional government’: PM

The prime minister Anthony Albanese has stepped up to speak in Canberra.

He begins with some strong words of rebuke for the former Coalition government.

That is a characteristic of dysfunctional government. After nine years of chaos, a dysfunctional government has now been replaced by a dysfunctional opposition.

He then moves onto referencing the findings of Bell’s report:

Justice Bell has found that the appointments were unnecessary, as an acting minister could have been appointed if needed to quote the report in a matter of minutes … To quote the report had literal connection to the pandemic, and were made because of Scott Morrison’s concern that again, I quote the report, an incumbent minister might exercise his or her statutory powers in a manner with which Mr. Morrison didn’t convert.

PM wants quick implementation of all six recommendations of Bell report

The prime minister Anthony Albanese’s office has released a statement welcoming the final report from the Bell inquiry, handed down today by the Hon Justice Virginia Bell.

The unprecedented and inexcusable actions of the former Prime Minister were emblematic of the culture of secrecy in which the previous Government operated.

The Bell Inquiry confirms the Solicitor-General’s conclusion that the principles of responsible government were “fundamentally undermined” because Mr Morrison was not “responsible” to the Parliament, and through the Parliament to the electors, for the departments he was appointed to administer.

Justice Bell found the secrecy around the appointments was “apt to undermine public confidence in government” and was “corrosive of trust in government.”

The inquiry has made six recommendations to improve transparency, accountability and restore public trust in Australian democracy, including:

  • Legislation to require public notice of the appointment of ministers to administer departments and hold offices;

  • The publication of acting arrangements for ministers; and

  • The publication of details of which ministers are appointed to administer departments and an outline of divisions of responsibilities where more than one minister is appointed to the same department.

Albanese said:

I will recommend to the next meeting of Cabinet that the Albanese Government accept all six of Justice Bell’s recommendations.

The quick implementation of these recommendations will ensure that the Australian public can have full confidence that this breach of trust will never happen again.

I thank Justice Bell and her team for the efforts in conducting this Inquiry.

Morrison secret appointments were ‘corrosive of trust in government’: Bell report

Bell writes in the “implications of the appointments” section of her report:

The lack of disclosure of the appointments to the public was apt to undermine public confidence in government. Once the appointments became known, the secrecy with which they had been surrounded was corrosive of trust in government.

Bell releases report finding Morrison appointments were ‘unnecessary’

Former high court justice Virginia Bell has released her findings from the inquiry into Scott Morrison’s secret appointment to five additional ministries.

Bell has found that the appointment of Morrison to the ministries of health and finance were “unnecessary”.

In August, the prime minister Anthony Albanese launched the inquiry after receiving the solicitor general’s advice that the additional ministry appointments were legal but “fundamentally undermined” responsible government.

Bell was tasked to report on the “facts and circumstances” of Morrison having himself appointed to administer the health, finance, industry science energy and resources, home affairs departments and treasury during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Albanese is going to be stepping up to speak at 12.30pm today to respond to the report’s findings.

Complacency over Covid-19 despite new wave

Almost two-thirds of Australians believe the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind them despite a new wave of infections and different variants of the virus emerging, research by Pfizer suggests.

One in three people is less likely to get tested for Covid when they have symptoms now compared with a year ago.

The findings have prompted stark warnings from health professionals.

University of Sydney infectious diseases specialist Prof Robert Booy said the apparent decline in testing was a major concern and urged Australians to keep up to date with their Covid-19 vaccinations.

Prof Booy said:

Recent federal government data has shown Covid still poses a very real risk to the health of our communities as we move into a new wave of infections, specifically to those at higher risk of serious illness.

Testing earlier means people can seek medical advice sooner and can access anti-viral medicines faster if they are eligible.

Almost two-thirds of Australians are also less concerned about how Covid-19 is affecting their community, while about half aren’t as worried about their own risk of serious illness.

One in five people who are at higher risk from Covid-19, such as those aged over 70 or those with health conditions including heart disease, are less likely to get tested or see a doctor if they experience symptoms.

The research findings are based on a November survey of 1,000 Australian adults by Pfizer Australia.

Australian authorities are closely monitoring a second Omicron variant’s transmission overseas, and all indications are that a new Covid wave has started in the country, chief medical officer Paul Kelly has said.

from AAP


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