A 12-year-old tweet from former prime minister Scott Morrison has come back to haunt the embattled Cook MP as the fallout from his secret ministerial appointments continues.
Mr Morrison appointed himself to the health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs portfolios over the last two years of his prime ministerial tenure.
His finance, treasury and home affairs ministers at the time were not made aware of the arrangements.
It’s at odds with a tweet he wrote in August 2010 in the lead-up to the federal election, where he wrote: “if Labor wins, we won’t know who is running the country, let alone who is Finance, Defence, or Foreign Affairs Minister.”
It’s in juxtaposition to the revelations his finance minister in 2020, Mathias Cormann, was not made aware that Mr Morrison had appointed himself to the portfolio.
Mr Morrison had a similar rhetoric in the lead-up to this year’s federal election, where he routinely criticised the Labor Party for not making clear who their defence minister would be.
As he called on Labor to announce their ministerial line-up ahead of the election, Mr Morrison affirmed the positions of his ministers.
“I can tell you who my defence minister’s going to be – it’s Peter Dutton,” he said in March.
“I can tell you who my home affairs minister is going to be – it’s Karen Andrews. These are the most important national security portfolios there are.
“It’s bad enough that the Australian people are not being told who the leader of the opposition is, but to not even know who their defence and their home affairs minister is going to be, well, that’s … absolute cause for pause.”
It has now emerged that at the time he made those comments, Mr Morrison was secretly a co-minister in the Home Affairs portfolio.
Ms Andrews has on Tuesday called for Mr Morrison to resign from politics.
“I had absolutely no knowledge, and was not told by the (prime minister, the prime minister’s office) nor the department secretary. This undermines the integrity of government,” Ms Andrews said on Tuesday.
“I think that Scott Morrison needs to resign … This is just unacceptable.”
Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil said Mr Morrison’s appointment to that portfolio was particularly concerning and potentially left Australia vulnerable.
“We had a really good example at the weekend in Canberra, with a very distressing situation at Canberra airport,” she told ABC Radio.
“As home affairs minister, I have specific responsibilities to protect Australians at moments like this – I’m spending my time trying to understand what’s happening, getting the information I need and understanding what steps the Australian government should take to ensure that Australians remain safe.
“What would have happened on that day if there had been two ministers for home affairs? Potentially, two people with the same powers having different views about how a situation should be handled?
“What would have happened if we’d had a significant terrorist attack during this time that we had two ministers for home affairs?”
Mr Morrison said he never exercised his powers in the home affairs, health, finance, or treasury portfolios.
He said he had made the move as a contingency measure in the face of the potential problems posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the secrecy was of particular concern, and whether or not Mr Morrison’s actions were legal is being considered by the Solicitor-General.
Originally published as Old tweet from Scott Morrison comes back to haunt him as secret ministry fallout continues