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Legal advice on Scott Morrison’s secret jobs imminent

Anthony Albanese has signalled a review of Scott Morrison’s conduct is on the horizon ahead of the release of legal advice into the secret jobs saga.

The Prime Minister will be briefed on the advice from Solicitor-General Stephen Donoghue on Monday afternoon.

It will then go to cabinet before being released publicly later on Tuesday.

“I intend to release that advice so that people can see it and be transparent about it,” Mr Albanese said.

PM PRESSER 16 AUGUST2022
Camera IconAnthony Albanese will release the legal advice on Tuesday. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Over a period of two years, Mr Morrison secretly appointed himself as the joint minister in the health, finance, treasury, home affairs, industry, science, energy and resources portfolios.

The Prime Minister told reporters in Sydney there had not been a suggestion his predecessor acted illegally.

“There have been questions raised about how this could occur, how it fits in with the conventions and the normal accountability mechanisms and checks and balances that are there in our parliamentary democracy,” Mr Albanese said.

On if he will order a review into the conduct, Mr Albanese said he was considering it.

“I will await and consider the advice properly … But I would have thought that Australians are concerned that this could ever occur,” the Prime Minister said.

“There is a basic fundamental weakness in checks and balances if no one knows who the minister is. How, then, can they be held to account for decisions which are made?

SCOTT MORRISON
Camera IconMr Morrison said he only used his “reserve” powers on one occasion. Gaye Gerard / NCA Newswire Credit: News Corp Australia

“That is why there is a need in a parliamentary democracy, and in our Westminster system of cabinet government, for cabinet to be aware, let alone the Australian people to be aware of who is responsible for what at any particular time.”

But any review into the saga should also consider the role of the Governor-General David Hurley and the public service, the Greens have said.

Mr Albanese has repeatedly defended the Governor-General who signed off on the secret power grab.

In a statement last week, a spokesperson for General Hurley said he had “no reason” to think Mr Morrison would not have made the appointments public.

PM PRESSER 16 AUGUST2022
Camera IconA review into the conduct has been flagged. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

But Greens senator David Shoebridge said his explanation didn’t pass the pub test given three of the appointments were made a year after the first two, which had not been made public.

“If on the first occasion he had seen there had not been any communication about the secret ministry, well maybe that‘s acceptable,“ he told the ABC.

“But what about the second? The third? The fourth and the fifth?”

It comes as the Coalition flagged it would act “pragmatically” on attempts to close the loophole that allowed Mr Morrison to appoint himself to the portfolios in secret.

Scott Morrison’s cabinet of secrets

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