Former Australian PM Scott Morrison to Face Rare Parliamentary Action

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Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison will face a censure motion by his parliamentary colleagues over his decision to secretly appoint himself to additional ministerial portfolios.

The Albanese government is expected to move the motion in parliament on Nov. 29, during the final sitting week of the year.

Censure motions do not have any legal consequences, but they are rare and give parliamentarians a chance to formally note disapproval with their colleagues.

The Liberal opposition said they would not support the motion and labelled it a “political stunt” by the Labor government.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said it was important for parliament to show its disapproval of the former prime minister’s conduct.

“These are the actions of a prime minister who had himself appointed to some five ministries and kept it a secret from the parliament,” he told Nine’s Today program.

“It’s a very serious attack on our democracy, and we can’t let it go unmarked.”

The last MP to be censured was Liberal MP Bruce Billson in 2018 due to not declaring payments while he was still in parliament.

Dreyfus said what Morrison did was a breach of democratic principles.

“(Being) censured by the parliament is a very, very unusual step, and I think that in itself is a very serious punishment,” he said.

However, Nationals leader David Littleproud said while he did not support Morrison’s secretive ministries, a censure was not necessary.

“What the parliament should be focused on is the reform that that report said we should take up as a parliament, and we should do that in a bipartisan way,” he told ABC TV.

“But what we should do is focus on Australians and focus on the cost of living pressures they’re facing at the moment.”

Labor MP Susan Templeman said the motion was an important line for parliament to draw about the standards it expects of elected MPs.

“It puts on the record, for all time, that sort of behaviour and things that go outside our Westminster system are not tolerated,” she told ABC News on Monday.

“We need to demonstrate to our community that has had its faith in democracy rocked … that we do believe in the Westminster system and accountability.”

She said the parliament would censure people who “flagrantly breach” what is considered to be norms of the democratic process.

House leader Tony Burke or Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus are expected to move the motion.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced cabinet ministers also agreed to implement all six recommendations from former High Court judge Virginia Bell’s report into Morrison’s conduct.

He said the government would introduce proposals for new laws to implement the recommendations from the report later this week.

“The actions of the former prime minister were extraordinary, they were unprecedented, and they were wrong,” Albanese told parliament.

He said Australians deserved to know who their ministers were and for the Westminster system of government to be upheld by the people they elected to represent them in parliament.

Liberal senator Andrew Bragg said he expected the opposition to support the law reform and increased transparency around changes in ministerial arrangements.

“The reason this is such a big story is because it was such a big surprise,” he said.

AAP

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Australian Associated Press is an Australian news agency.



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