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15 August, 2022 | 02:56 AM

Unlikely NSW Liberal backs in Scott Morrison’s sneaky ministerial moves

Unlikely NSW Liberal backs in Scott Morrison’s sneaky ministerial moves
NSW Treasurer Matt Kean has backed in former prime minister Scott Morrison, congratulating him for “making the right call” to secretly swear himself in as a second resources minister in order to scrap a controversial offshore gas project. Mr Kean has, however, criticised Mr Morrison for not being transparent about his decision to make the unconstitutional move without telling Resources Minister Keith Pitt. Reports have since emerged Mr Morrison had made similar moves before, and had kept his former finance minister Matthias Corman in the dark after he appointed himself as a second health minister and finance minister in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, via a secret agreement struck with then-attorney-general Christian Porter. Mr Morrison appointed himself as a second resources minister in late 2021 , in order to scrap the controversial PEP-11 gas project , in a bid to protect blue-ribbon seats from teal independents at the then-upcoming election. An exclusive report by the Australian has revealed that 11 months earlier, Governor-General David Hurley appointed Mr Morrison to take control of the entire department of industry, science, energy and resources. Mr Kean said if Mr Morrison had felt it necessary to take such a step to ultimately protect the environment, it was something he supported. “PEP-11 was something that I was very concerned about; the impact it would have on our environment … I congratulate the (former) prime minister for making the right call on that issue,” Mr Kean said. “I’m backing the decision to cancel the PEP-11 licence. I think that was the right call. “I think that was a good outcome for the environment and the community.” Mr Kean did say, however, he believed transparency was “important” in public life. Mr Kean has been one of the only senior politicians to support Mr Morrison, putting him at odds with former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce. Mr Joyce said he fundamentally believed in a “cabinet system of government” rather than a presidential form. “If you don’t like the work a certain cabinet minister is doing, then you talk to them about it. And obviously you have the right to threaten to sack them, or you can sack them,” Mr Joyce told Channel 7. “I think it’s very bad practice when a prime minister or any other senior minister starts having ultimate say over another person’s portfolio.” Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the reports were “extraordinary and unprecedented” and has asked for briefings from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet. “They are seeking advice on this,” Mr Albanese said. “There’s a whole lot of questions arising from this – what did Peter Dutton and other continuing members of the now shadow ministry know about these circumstances? “How is it that the Australian people can be misled? We know now that Scott Morrison was not only being Prime Minister, but was Minister for Health, was Minister for Industry, Science and Resources and was Minister for Finance. “We all know that Scott Morrison had trouble doing the (main) job that he had. Perhaps it was because he was doing so many different jobs that we didn’t know that he had.” Mr Albanese also questioned how the Governor-General could swear in Mr Morrison into portfolios without there being transparency. “It’s clear that the Australian people deserve explanations,” he said. “This is very contrary to our Westminster system. It is unbecoming. It was cynical, and it was just weird. “Australians will be scratching their heads today knowing that the government that they thought was there wasn’t actually the Australian government at all.” Originally published as Unlikely NSW Liberal backs in Scott Morrison’s sneaky ministerial moves Sign up for our emails