Anthony Albanese found out about Scott Morrison’s secret portfolios by reading it in the newspaper.
The prime minister has described how he found out about the scandal in an interview with Brisbane radio station B105.
“I read the paper on Saturday. And it was like: ‘What?’ And then on Sunday night, there were more revelations,” Albanese said.
“And then I asked the head of my department: ‘Okay, can we find out if there was any other jobs he was sworn into?’ And they came back Monday afternoon and said: ‘Yeah, Treasury and Home Affairs, in addition to Industry, Science, Energy and Resources and Health and Finance.'”
Albanese described Morrison’s secret portfolio scandal as “beyond belief”.
“I do not understand the thought process that says I’m the Prime Minister of Australia but I want all these other jobs as well,” he said.
“And I don’t think yesterday added to any of the explanation. I just think it became weirder, frankly.”
Albanese is awaiting the findings of a legal investigation into Morrison’s secret portfolios, due to be handed down on Monday.
Yesterday Morrison defended his decision to secretly swear himself into five ministerial portfolios during the pandemic.
Morrison took ministerial responsibilities in the Health, Treasury, Home Affairs, Resources and Finance portfolios, without telling most of the ministry team.
“I think there was a great risk that in the midst of that crisis those powers could be misinterpreted and misunderstood, which would have caused unnecessary angst in the middle of a pandemic,” he said yesterday.
“I did what I thought was necessary in the national interests to ensure the government continued to perform well.”
He said he had apologised for the offence caused to the ministers, but did not concede he had done anything wrong.
“I regret that offence and I apologise for that offence, but I am pleased that through the course of the pandemic my confidence was in them to keep just doing their job,” Morrison said.
“The fact I didn’t interfere in doing their job shows the confidence I had in them.”
He said the ministers in the portfolios in question had continued to act as ministers, and that he did not instruct any department that he had jurisdiction over their duties.
But he did distinguish between taking on pandemic-related ministerial roles, and his assumption of the Resources Minister role, in which capacity he blocked a gas project that minister Keith Pitt favoured.
“I don’t regret that for a second,” he said.
“I’m very happy with that decision.”
In spite of that, Morrison said Pitt did an “outstanding job” as minister.