The Perfect Enemy | Live updates: Federal politicians react to Scott Morrison’s secret ministerial appointments, Barnaby Joyce and David Littleproud defend former PM
September 27, 2022

Live updates: Federal politicians react to Scott Morrison’s secret ministerial appointments, Barnaby Joyce and David Littleproud defend former PM

Live updates: Federal politicians react to Scott Morrison’s secret ministerial appointments, Barnaby Joyce and David Littleproud defend former PM  ABC News

Read Time:12 Minute

Scott Morrison says it was “necessary” for him to have additional powers while he was prime minister during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key events

Live updates

By Bridget Judd

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Watch the press conference with Anthony Albanese

The Prime Minister is speaking from Brisbane, alongside Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The stream will begin shortly.

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3m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:47am

By Bridget Judd

Albanese: ‘The first rule of power grab club is don’t talk about power grab club, and Scott Morrison broke that rule’

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is speaking from Brisbane with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk.

The update is centred around the city’s Cross River Rail project, but as you can imagine, the PM is also being asked for his thoughts on Mr Morrison’s press conference.

“The first rule of power grab club is don’t talk about power grab club and Scott Morrison broke that rule today. Scott Morrison was passive aggressive and of course he was self-serving, so at least he was true to himself today,” he says.

Mr Albanese accused the former PM of refusing to take responsibility during the press conference.

“He gave a press conference and said he made the conscious decision not to tell his cabinet colleagues…. that somehow he didn’t want it to be misinterpreted, which is why he didn’t tell anyone.”

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9m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:41am

By Bridget Judd

Key Event

Key moments from the press conference with Scott Morrison

There was a bit to digest there, so here are the key takeaways from the press conference with the former prime minister.

  • Mr Morrison has rejected calls from within his own party to resign
  • He said the fact that cabinet ministers did not know about his self-appointments was proof he had not interfered or intervened in other ministries, except in one instance
  • He also said he did not lie when he said he could only recall giving himself powers to administer health, finance and resources yesterday
  • He said it was expected of him to take charge of the pandemic response, and “there were gaps” in government process

You can catch up on the full wrap with ABC political reporter Jake Evans.

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15m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:35am

By Bridget Judd

Key Event

Governor-General: ‘I’ll do my job as I’ve done it in the past’

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Play Video. Duration: 45 secondsPlay Video. Duration: 45 seconds

Governor-General declines to comment on the Scott Morrison ministerial appointments

Governor-General David Hurley was questioned exclusively by the ABC’s political editor Andrew Probyn about the appointments a short time ago.

PROBYN: Did you think those appointments would be made public as convention dictates?

HURLEY: I’ve released a statement about my role in this, my responsibilities under the principle of responsible government by which we run our country. I’m content at the moment to allow the processes the Prime Minister has put in place to run through until next week. In the meantime I’ll do my job as I’ve done it in the past.

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27m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:23am

By Bridget Judd

What do you think the Australian public think of how you handled this situation?

Mr Morrison says he’s “not going to muse on that because that’s for them”.

But he adds that being PM during a pandemic was a “tough gig and a tough time” and “we had to make some hard calls”.

“And we had to get the country through a very difficult period and we did that. People’s lives were saved, people’s livelihoods were saved.”

He says while he doesn’t want to give the impression it is an “unimportant issue”, the decisions he made didn’t impact “one Australian other than those who wanted to preserve the environment off the NSW coast”.

“I think there are lessons out of all of this, but, you know, right now, Australians are very focused on what’s affecting them.

“This decision I took didn’t impact one Australian other than those who wanted to preserve the environment of the New South Wales coast.

“The other measures were put in place simply to try to protect them if I had to and thankfully I didn’t have to.”

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31m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:19am

By Jessica Riga

‘Why couldn’t you remember yesterday swearing yourself in as Treasurer?’

“Let me explain what I said. I did not take over the treasury portfolio. I did not take over the home affairs portfolio. I did not take over the health portfolio,” Morrison says.

“I was administratively sworn in which gave me authority, like many other ministers had, to exercise decisions in an emergency situation. It was something that was done on an order of many other issues we were dealing with at the time.”

So did Morrison lie yesterday?

“No, I did not. I didn’t recall.

“Before I insured my statement yesterday, I took the time to make a formal request through the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet to get the facts about if there were any other portfolios that administratively I was sworn to ensure I could answer these exact questions which I have done and I did in the statement yesterday.”

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32m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:18am

By Bridget Judd

‘Why didn’t you take over the portfolio when Peter Dutton had COVID?’

That was put to Mr Morrison a short time ago.

Asked why he didn’t take over the home affairs portfolio when the then-minister Peter Dutton caught COVID, the former PM says “at that point, we were dealing with the issues in health and finance”.

“That’s a reasonable question. And at that point, we were dealing with the issues in health and finance. Now, we hadn’t been moving on to some of the other issues and that’s why it was added later as a precaution.”

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37m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:12am

By Bridget Judd

Did Scott Morrison or anyone acting under his authority in the five portfolios approve grants, contracts or other spending?

Mr Morrison says he doesn’t “believe so at all”.

Here’s a bit of the back and forth.

REPORTER: Can you be certain that you, or anybody acting under your authority in those five portfolios, approved any appropriations, grant, contracts or other spending?

MORRISON: No, I don’t believe so at all. That’s – that’s the best of my knowledge. I don’t – that is my understanding.

REPORTER: Have you checked?

MORRISON: As best as I can.

REPORTER: Your memory has been sketchy.

MORRISON: That’s fair enough. It was a pretty busy time, I have been prime minister over four years in the middle of a pandemic. I have sought some advice on these things and advice that I received around the authorities that I was given, but to best of my recollection – that’s why I have said it so plainly – I didn’t exercise any override of any of the ministers in any of their agencies except for the one that I have specified in relation to resources.

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44m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:05am

By Jessica Riga

Would Morrison do this again?

“It’s a good question and it’s one that I think particularly those going forward will need to reflect on because I don’t intend to be in a position where I will be doing it again. I don’t intend, or have any expectation, of being in that situation,” Morrison says.

“But I think as I said at the outset, I’m very happy to cooperate with any sort of genuine or positive process which is seeking to understand the lessons of the pandemic and how these issues can be better managed in the future.

“But your question sort of highlight as good point: There was no guide book for a global pandemic of this nation and the recession it caused.”

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46m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:04am

By Bridget Judd

Scott Morrison: ‘I have had a wonderful conversation’ with Josh Frydenberg

Asked how former treasurer Josh Frydenberg was feeling in light of the developments, Mr Morrison says he had a “wonderful conversation with Josh” yesterday.

“We are the best of friends and he has my total regard as both a friend and colleague and that will forever remain.”

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49m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 3:01am

By Jessica Riga

Key Event

Will Scott Morrison resign?

“Of course not,” he says.

“I’m only aware of one colleague that asked [me] to do that.”

“These are actions and decisions I took as the Prime Minister. I’m no longer the Prime Minister.

“There is another Prime Minister who has a series of priorities that he must address and I’m sure he will. But I didn’t take these decisions as the member for Cook. These issues don’t relate to my role as the member for Cook and I will continue to serve as the member for Cook.”

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53m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:57am

By Jessica Riga

‘When would these emergency powers have been invoked?’

Scott Morrison has been asked to give an example beyond “not just a vague term in the pandemic.”

“The fact that they were not enacted meant unforeseen events, and that’s the nature of those events, they’re unforeseen, which could have been anything from the station of a minister for any number of purposes or some threat to the national interest.

“Now, I’m very, very pleased that that was not necessary.”

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55m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:54am

By Bridget Judd

Who decided Scott Morrison should be appointed to five portfolios?

Mr Morrison says: “I believed it was a prudent, responsible action in the middle of a crisis to have those emergency powers in place”.

“To ensure that I could exercise the expectations of my responsibilities, which I remind you, was put to me on a daily basis by members of the media [and] by the Opposition.

“[They were] constantly telling me that I was responsible for everything, even the actions of state premiers and decisions that they were taking, and that I should be able to override them.

“And to this day people still make the argument, why I didn’t exercise some sort of non-existent prime ministerial authority over the states and territories? So this is something I dealt with everyday.”

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58m agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:52am

By Jessica Riga

Morrison doubles down on blocking gas exploration licence

“I’m saying they were two different sets of circumstances. There was emergency powers which I had put in place that were dealing with pandemic arrangements,” Morrison says.

The resources portfolio decision was not one of those. That was a separate issue that I determined to consider directly myself.

“I’ve been very open about it. That’s what I have done. I took that decision, I took it lawfully. I took it in accordance with the necessary that was necessary to follow to make such a decision and I believe it was the right decision.”

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1h agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:50am

By Bridget Judd

Key Event

Morrison says he will continue to serve as Cook MP, but is yet to decide whether he will contest the next election

Asked about whether he would stay on as the Member for Cook, Mr Morrison says his “commitment to them is as it’s always been”.

“I particularly thank them for the strong support they’ve given me in recent days and I’ll continue to serve them as the member for Cook and I’ll make a decision at the appropriate time as to whether I’ll contest the next election.”

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1h agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:48am

By Jessica Riga

Morrison grilled on decision to block gas exploration licence

For context, the Morrison used extraordinary ministerial powers to block Asset Energy’s controversial Pep-11 gas exploration licence off the Hunter coast.

“I wanted [then-resources minsiter Keith Pitt] to continue doing the job asthe minister but on that particular project I believe it was in the national interests for me to consider it in its totality which I did and I’m very happy with that decision,” Morrison says.

“And if people think I should have made a decision different and allowed that project to proceed and allow the drilling to occur off the New South Wales coast, I don’t agree with it.”

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1h agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:47am

By Bridget Judd

Key Event

Morrison: ‘The criticisms of the Governor-General are egregious’

Asked about the Governor-General David Hurley’s role in the saga, and whether he had asked the former PM to make his extra responsibilities public, Mr Morrison says he acted with “absolute propriety”.

“The criticisms of the Governor-General are egregious. I think the Governor-General acted with absolute propriety and did everything that was expected of him in these arrangements,” he says.

“And he would have taken the necessary advice from his own office and the suitable engagement was undertaken between my department and the office of the Governor-General.

“Now…. there was no swearing in ceremonies. That is the point. These things were done administratively, so there was no such interaction like the one you’re describing, because that’s not how it was done.”

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1h agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:43am

By Jessica Riga

‘Why didn’t you tell Karen Andrews specifically about home affairs?’

“I think I have already answered that question,” Morrison says.

“Those powers were exercised by a democratically elected leader and were done so lawfully by me.

“I don’t accept that it was done in the way that you’ve suggested and I think the proof of that is the fact that they were not exercised because I did not consider there were any circumstances that would justify the use of those powers.

“Which is a point which seems to have been missed.”

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1h agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:42am

By Bridget Judd

Morrison: ‘Of course I regret that offence and I apologise for that offence’

Asked what Mr Morrison was apologising for if he believed his decision to take on the portfolios was “prudent and right”, the former PM says he’s sorry for “the offence that was caused”.

REPORTER: So are you maintaining that you did nothing wrong?

MORRISON: Of course I regret that offence and I apologise for that offence, but I am pleased that through the course of the pandemic my confidence was in them to keep just doing their job.

Mr Morrison says the fact that he didn’t intervene in the different portfolios shows “the confidence” he had in his ministers.

“Now, there were many issues that arose over that period of time where if I had wished to I could have exercised the authorities given to me in their portfolios, but I did not do that,” he says.

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1h agoWed 17 Aug 2022 at 2:39am

By Jessica Riga

‘Why not simply advise your cabinet colleagues that you were doing this?’

“As I said, I apologise for any concern this has caused about those issues and I understand that concern and that’s why I’m standing here today,” Morrison answers.

“But at the same time I did not want any of my ministers to be going about their daily business any different to what they were doing before.

“I was concerned that these issues could have been misconstrued and misunderstood and undermine the confidence of ministers in the performance of their duties at that time, and I did not consider that to be in the country’s interest.”

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