October 5, 2022

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Governor-General David Hurley has issued a second statement on the extra ministries Scott Morrison was appointed to whilst prime minister, distancing himself from the secrecy surrounding the moves.
A spokesperson for Hurley on Wednesday evening said the governor-general had “no reason” to think the public wouldn’t be told about Morrison’s extra portfolios. Three of the additional appointments were made more than a year after the first two, which weren’t publicly announced.

“In relation to questions around secrecy: any questions around secrecy after the governor-general had acted on the advice of the government of the day are a matter for the previous government,” the spokesperson said in a statement.

Governor-General David Hurley.
A spokesperson for David Hurley said he had “no reason” to think the public wouldn’t be told about Morrison’s extra portfolios. (Edwina Pickles)

“It is not the responsibility of the governor-general to advise the broader ministry or parliament (or public) of administrative changes of this nature. The governor-general had no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated.”

Morrison was sworn into the health and finance departments by Hurley in March 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic.

While then health minister Greg Hunt was told the prime minister was being added to that portfolio, the finance minister at the time, Mathias Cormann, was not informed.

More than a year later, between April and May 2021, Morrison took on the treasury, the home affairs, and the industry, science, energy and resources ministries.

Scott Morrison and headlines from around the world about the secret ministries saga.

How Morrison secret ministries saga went global

He said he didn’t tell ministers or the public about his secret appointments to avoid the moves being misunderstood.

“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.

In Wednesday’s statement, the governor-general sought to clarify the way in which he was provided the advice to swear Morrison into the extra portfolios, saying he was following the advice from the prime minister.

Governor-General David Hurley and Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Governor-General David Hurley and then-Prime Minister Scott Morrison pose for photos with new appointments in the ministry, during a virtual swearing-in ceremony in 2020. (Alex Ellinghausen)

“In terms of questions around the process by which advice is provided to the governor-general: recommendations relating to appointments of ministers of state, or to appoint a minister to have administrative responsibilities over another department, are not, by convention, considered by federal executive council,” the spokesperson said.

“They are recommendations made, in writing, by the prime minister to the governor-general. The governor-general signs an instrument to act on the advice of the government of the day. The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet is responsible for that process.”

The spokesperson said Hurley was “content” with the response instigated by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, and that he would not be commenting further.

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