"This is sinister stuff." Everything we know about Scott Morrison's secret ministry.

Three months after handing over the reins as prime minister, Scott Morrison has found himself the centre of controversy. 

Following days of media reports, it's now been confirmed Morrison secretly swore himself into five ministerial portfolios while he was prime minister; a move that even his own cabinet ministry didn't know about.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called out Morrison and his government for "an extraordinary and unprecedented trashing of our democracy" and said he is now seeking legal advice from the solicitor-general.

Watch: Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addresses media about Scott Morrison's secret portfolios. Post continues below. 

Video via 9News.

Here's what you need to know about the unfolding situation. 

So, what did Scott Morrison actually do? 

Over the weekend, The Australian reported Morrison had sworn himself in as health minister and finance minister, alongside his own ministers, after the start of the pandemic in March 2020.


He reportedly used this power to overturn a decision by former minister Keith Pitt to approve a controversial gas project off the NSW coast.


Pitt reportedly had no idea Morrison had joint oversight of his portfolio at the time. Neither did the then-finance minister Mathias Cormann. 

On Tuesday, Anthony Albanese confirmed that Morrison was appointed to five portfolios between March 2020 and May 2021.

They were:

  • The Department of Health on the 14 March 2020
  • The Department of Finance on the 30 March 2020
  • The Department of Home Affairs on the 6 May 2021
  • The Department of the Treasury on 6 May 2021
  • The Department of Industry, science energy and resources on the 15 April 2021

According to reports, Morrison also took joint power over another ministry, the social services portfolio, in June 2021. However, this was not confirmed by Albanese.

How have people reacted? 

Albanese said the Australian public deserved an explanation for being kept in the dark, calling Morrison "the world’s first stealth bulldozer". 

"There have been revelations of an extraordinary and unprecedented trashing of our democracy by the former Morrison government. This has been government by deception," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"I used to say that Scott Morrison had two jobs as Prime Minister and he botched them both. It turns out I was wrong about there being just two jobs.

"Turns out, he was the world’s first stealth bulldozer. Operating in secret, keeping the operations of the government from the Australian people themselves."


Former Liberal Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has also called out Morrison, saying the move was "sinister" and went against the traditions of Westminster parliamentary democracy.

"I'm astonished that Mr Morrison thought he could do it, astonished that the prime minister and cabinet went along with it," he told ABC's 7.30 program on Monday night.

"I'm even more astonished that the governor-general was party it to. This is sinister stuff."


Meanwhile, former home affairs minister Karen Andrews is calling on Morrison to resign immediately. 

"I think that Scott Morrison needs to resign, and he needs to leave parliament," she said on Tuesday. 

"I mean this is just unacceptable, and if this is the way that he is prepared to conduct himself without an adequate explanation — even though it is now going to be well past the time when such an explanation should have been made — then it is time for him to leave the parliament and look elsewhere for employment."

However, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who admitted he didn't know Morrison had sworn himself into the positions, said he won't be encouraging the former prime minster to resign. 


Instead, he said it's "time for cooler heads to prevail" and it's best to wait for legal advice. 

How has Scott Morrison responded? 

On Tuesday, Morrison broke his silence and defended his decision to be secretly sworn into the positions, saying it was a precaution during the pandemic.

"It was an unconventional time and an unprecedented time," he told Sydney radio station 2GB.

"We had to take some extraordinary measures to put safeguards in place... Fortunately, none of these in the case of the finance and health portfolio were ever required to be used."

He went on to say he was sworn into resources in 2021 because of the "importance" of a decision surrounding a controversial offshore gas project known as PEP-11. 

"That was a very different issue… it was one I sought to be the decision-maker on that issue because of the importance of that issue," he said. 

"I always respected Keith's [Pitt] role as the decision-maker, and if I wanted to be the decision-maker, I had to take the steps that I took."

He also did not dispute claims he took joint power over the social services portfolio. 

"I don't recall that but I mean, as I said, there was some administrative issues done. I don't dispute that."

Speaking about his decision to be sworn into finance, Morrison said his failure to inform then-finance minister Mathias Cormann was an oversight, thinking the information had been passed on through offices.


"It was regrettable ... but things were moving quickly at the time."

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Is this even legal?

A spokesperson for Governor-General David Hurley said he followed processes consistent with the constitution when he appointed Morrison to the additional portfolios.

"It is not uncommon for ministers to be appointed to administer departments other than their portfolio responsibility," the spokesperson said in a statement.

"These appointments do not require a swearing-in ceremony. The governor-general signs an administrative instrument on the advice of the prime minister."

When asked to clarify if the arrangements were legal on Tuesday, Albanese said he would receive advice on the matter from the solicitor-general. 

"On the former issue of legality, I've asked for advice from the solicitor-general and I was advised that that will be available next Monday," he said. 

He also defended the Governor-General for appointing Morrison to the portfolios. 

"With regard to the Governor-General and his role, the governor-general acts on advice from the government of the day."

- With AAP.

Feature Image: Getty/Mamamia.