Australian government moves to censure former prime minister over secret ministries

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FILE PHOTO: General election in Australia

By Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s Labor government said it will move a parliamentary censure motion against former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison this week after an inquiry found his secret appointment to multiple ministries undermined trust in government.

Morrison, who lost power in a general election in May, secretly accumulated five ministerial roles during the COVID-19 pandemic: health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday said a motion of censure would be introduced to the Labor-controlled House of Representative this week by either the leader of the house or the attorney general.

“This wasn’t about a relationship between the former prime minister and his ministers. It’s not a personal relationship between two mates over what happened down the pub,” Albanese said during a news conference.

“This is about accountability of our democratic system, and whether the parliament was functioning properly.”

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An inquiry led by former High Court judge Virginia Bell last week made six recommendations for reform after finding the appointments likely hurt public confidence in government.

Having committed to all six changes, Albanese said legislation to require public notification of ministerial appointments will be introduced this week.

Regulatory changes that don’t require legislation have already been made, he added.

(Reporting by Lewis Jackson; Editing by Michael Perry)

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