Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s secret ministries were unnecessary, Virginia Bell’s investigation shows

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The findings of the inquiry into Scott Morrison’s self-appointment to secret ministries have been released.

Former Supreme Court Justice Virginia Bell says the former prime minister’s actions undermined public trust and were ultimately unnecessary.

Here are some key takeaways from the report.

Morrison considered appointing himself a sixth ministry

In 2020 and 2021, Scott Morrison secretly appointed himself to manage the Health, Finance, Treasury, Home Affairs and Industry, Science, Energy and Resources ministries.

Today, Ms Bell’s report revealed Mr Morrison was looking at appointing himself a sixth ministry: the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE).

She said the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) directed the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to prepare a brief for his appointment to manage the department.

But Mr Morrison did not go through with it.

“Subsequently, Mr Morrison decided not to continue with the appointment to manage DAWE,” the report said.

close-up of the side of Scott Morrison's face
Scott Morrison says he welcomes the inquiry’s recommendations.(ABC Alice Springs: Xavier Martin)

In the end, Morrison’s appointments were unnecessary

Morrison claims he appointed himself to the positions in response to the demands of the COVID pandemic and as a safeguard in the event the health or finance minister became incapacitated.

However, Ms Bell found the appointments unnecessary.

She said Mr Morrison could have been authorized to act for any of the ministers “within minutes” if he needed to.

PM&C noted that Morrison’s appointments were “somewhat unusual”

Ms Bell said PM&C secretary Phil Gaetjens believed Mr Morrison’s appointment to health and finance was appropriate in the circumstances.

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