Scott Morrison defended his actions at a press conference in Sydney on Wednesday, arguing Australia would not have fared as well from the COVID-19 pandemic as it did – either in economic or health outcomes – if it were not for his leadership. This included, the former PM suggested, a series of successive quiet manoeuvres to grant himself added ministerial powers across five portfolios.

Rather than speak to what sound basis it was upon which Morrison relied to acquire his extra ministerial powers across Health, Treasury, Resources, Social Services, and Home Affairs without feeling the need to disclose this publicly, the former PM preferred to cast the narrative in terms of what a challenging time in the world it had been.

Morrison said his tenure as PM was a “difficult”, “unusual” and “extraordinary” period in domestic and world affairs, citing the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession and natural disasters that “tested every sinew and fabric of government” irrespective of jurisdiction. And besides, Morrison said, small business owners still thanked him to this day, wherever he went, for saving their livelihoods.

“The good news is that Australia emerged well, [sic] strongly, that Australia’s economy, Australia’s health performance, [and] I believe democracy and the way that went about things emerged, frankly, as an example, to every other developed country around the world,” Morrison said.

“The facts of that, I think, are not in dispute: 40,000 lives saved, tens of thousands of businesses [saved] that would not be here today. I’m very proud of what Australia was able to achieve over that period. I’m very proud of Australians.”

Speaking to The Mandarin, ethicist and philosopher Dr Matt Beard expressed caution about the argument certain checks and balances or typical processes of good governance could be suspended in light of emergency citations. Morrison’s claim the pandemic or economic crisis caused by COVID-19 justified secret ministerial powers was not a compelling one, he suggested.

“It is incredibly risky. It borders on hubris to say that not only are there times in emergencies where those conditions need to be set aside, but ‘I am the one who is going to be accumulating power by making these decisions, and I am the one who gets to decide when those emergency conditions have been met’,” Beard said. “That’s a fundamental mistake, it should not be that person who stands to gain power who decides when that should happen. Anyone can see the risk involved in that,” Beard said.

Most of the ministers in Morrison’s own government whose patch he cumulatively encroached on did not know (and for that the former apologised for any offence caused) but he rejected the suggestion this behaviour demonstrated a lack of character or was a reason he should not continue representing the seat of Cook.

Morrison said he would not be resigning from parliament, despite calls from his jilted former Home Affairs minister Karen Andrews to step down.

via The Mandarin, 18 August 2022. Read the full article here.

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