24 August 2022

Conservatives and Their Coup Attempts

No, not Trump in Mar-a-Lago, this time it's Scott Morrison in Australia

He took control of the most powerful ministries in government secretly:


Morrison’s arguments are now being seen in a different light after it was revealed that he covertly appointed himself to jointly run five ministries — including health, resources, home affairs, finance and the treasury — without telling most of the ministers involved.

The case has sent shockwaves through the Australian political establishment. The flouting of convention has drawn comparisons to authoritarian governments around the world that used the pretext of the pandemic to strengthen their grip on power and tainted Morrison’s tenure as prime minister.

Anthony Albanese, Morrison’s successor, has launched an independent inquiry into the affair following advice from Stephen Donaghue, Australia’s solicitor-general, who said on Tuesday that the former leader’s actions were neither illegal nor unconstitutional but had “fundamentally undermined” the principles of responsible government.

“Plainly enough, it is impossible for the parliament to hold ministers to account for the administration of departments if it does not know which ministers are responsible for which departments,” Donaghue said.


“I was steering the ship during the tempest,” he said, adding that he had not told all ministers because it would have distracted them from their jobs.

Yet his pandemic defence was undermined by the one intervention he made when he overruled his resources minister to block an offshore gas project — a decision that is now being legally challenged and had nothing to do with the health crisis.

Luke Beck, a professor of constitutional law at Monash University, said Morrison’s own views on not trusting governments had been laid bare by his actions. “That statement demonstrates his rank hypocrisy,” he said. “He himself wilfully and deliberately undertook a scheme to breach convention and misled his own government ministers, parliament and the public.”


The scandal has also highlighted the role of David Hurley, the governor-general who acts as Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Australia, who signed off the secret appointments.

The solicitor-general and constitutional experts said Hurley did nothing wrong in approving Morrison’s ministerial grab, adding that he was not required to publicise the decisions.

But Matt Thistlethwaite, the minister for the republic who has been tasked with kick-starting a debate about the political system ahead of a potential referendum on ditching the queen as head of state, said the controversy represented a “mini constitutional crisis” that undermined the monarchist argument that the current structure works.

“The governor-general is appointed by, and swears an allegiance to, the Queen,” he said. “If we had an Australian head of state swearing an allegiance to the Australian people then it would be inconceivable that they would not have told the public about this.”

The Australians need to seriously consider firing the British royals and going (Small R) republican.

Come to think of it, so should be the British.


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