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Australia on Friday tapped a former high court judge to investigate ex-prime minister Scott Morrison’s decision to secretly appoint himself to several key ministerial portfolios.


Incumbent Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the creation of the inquiry, saying the country’s system of “parliamentary democracy” had been tested.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, conservative leader Morrison appointed himself to the ministries of health, treasury, finance, resources and home affairs without telling colleagues or the public.

Albanese said the inquiry was essential “to ensure that this can never happen again”.

The probe will be led by former high court judge Virginia Bell and will report by November 25.

“We need to have a quick and appropriate inquiry,” said Albanese, adding this is “not about the politics, but how this happened, why this happened and who knew about it.”

He did not rule out Morrison or other former government ministers from being compelled to give evidence if necessary.

Morrison has insisted he was right to take “emergency powers” during the tumult of the pandemic.

“I was steering the ship in the middle of the tempest,” he said in a defiant first public appearance after the scandal broke, dismissing critics who were “standing on the shore after the fact”.

Three of Morrison’s fellow conservative prime ministers have also criticised the former premier’s behaviour.