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Nine Today Show 24 August 2022

24 August 2022

SUBJECTS: Solicitor General’s Advice regarding Scott Morrison’s Ministerial Appointments.



SUBJECTS: Solicitor General’s Advice regarding Scott Morrison’s Ministerial Appointments.

KARL STEFANOVIC: Despite being found not to have broken any laws, Anthony Albanese is pressing ahead with his investigation of Scott Morrison's secret ministries,

ALLISON LANGDON: But the former PM stopping short of agreeing to participate. Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus joins us now. Attorney-General, nice to see you this morning. So he's been cleared as far as the law goes, is that the end of the matter now?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL MARK DREYFUS: It's not the end of the matter. We've had a deeply alarming advice here from the Solicitor-General about how Scott Morrison appointing himself to five ministries really undermined our system of responsible government.

STEFANOVIC: What will you do and how expeditiously?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We're going to have an inquiry. We're just now working out the details of that inquiry so that we can look into exactly what happened, and then get some recommendations to make sure that it never happens again.

STEFANOVIC: But you kind of know what happened.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: We know the bare bones of what happened. We know that Mr Morrison, in an unprecedented way, appointed himself to five ministries while he was the Prime Minister and kept it secret. And that should never happen again.

LANGDON: So there's already things in place that you're going to do to ensure that if someone does that, that you're going to know about it with the Commonwealth Gazette. But I think Scott Morrison has said that he will take part in an inquiry if it is a “genuine process to learn lessons from the pandemic”. So he wants it to be broader than what he did to include the states and territories. Would you look at that?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Of course he wants it to be broader. And of course he wants to hide behind the pandemic. This had nothing to do with the pandemic. This was just a power grab by Mr Morrison appointing himself to five ministries. It's deeply concerning. The inquiry is going to be about that and I welcome Mr Morrison saying he'll cooperate and he should.

STEFANOVIC: I guess there's a feeling that maybe Albo can drop it now, that he's getting obsessed by Scott Morrison. Is it time just to move on, given that it wasn't against any law, and you are making some more changes anyway?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: This is serious. It's a serious breach of convention. It's a deeply alarming advice from the Solicitor-General. That's why we're going to do this. That's why we're going to have a further inquiry. And as the Prime Minister said yesterday, we'll make sure, on our watch, that every single appointment to the ministry is published and the inquiry is going to look at what we can do to change the law to make sure it never happens again.

LANGDON: So if there hadn't been a change of government we may not have known that this is something that had happened. So that idea of being broader, to work out what the states did and what powers they had at the same time, is there merit in that?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, the pandemic, unfortunately, is not quite over. So the time for working out what we should do to look into the whole conduct of the pandemic, that hasn't quite come. This is a serious matter about Mr Morrison appointing himself to five ministries.

STEFANOVIC: Attorney-General thanks for spending some time with us.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Thanks very much.