Scott Morrison censure: How former PM is defending himself as House prepares to censure him

Scott Morrison, former prime minister, is under investigation by the federal parliament for secretly assuming additional ministerial portfolios during his time in government. However, he vigorously defends his actions.

This is the first time that the House of Representatives has taken such action against a former prime minster. Liberal and Nationals MPs walked out of the chamber instead of voting.

Tony Burke, House leader, proposed the motion on Wednesday. He stated that although censures are rare, they have their place in parliament.

He said, “The court is where you decide if something is legal, but the parliament determines if something was appropriate.”

“This is not a trivial matter. It goes to the very core of responsible government.

At 9.30 am, Mr Morrison appeared in the Chamber to vigorously defend himself. 

He told parliament, “I don’t intend now to submit to the political intimidation and use its numbers here to impose my retribution on any political opponent.”

As the House of Representatives censured Morrison for being the first ex-prime minister to do so, Mr Morrison stood up in the chamber and vigorously defended his actions.

Ex-Pm Scott Morrison Is Acknowledged By Fellow Oppositon Mps After Speaking On A Censure Motion Moved Against Him By The Leader Of The House Tony Burke

Ex-PM Scott Morrison is acknowledged by fellow Oppositon MPs after speaking on a censure motion moved against him by the Leader of the House Tony Burke

“I reiterate that I have supported and welcomed the Bell inquiry’s recommendations.

“For those who would like to add their verdict today on me supporting this censure action, I simply suggest they stop and ask themselves the following question: Have you ever had to deal a crisis with an unknown outlook?

“Are you able, in such circumstances, to make all the right decisions? Even though you might have made mistakes, was it possible for them to not have a material impact on the outcome and the result itself to be world-leading?

“Once you have considered the experience of others, and what happens to those who have been more involved in government, you might be able to make the first stone in this area.

'Once You Have Considered Your Own Experience, Or What Happens When You Have Had More In Government, Then You May Wish To Cast The First Stone In This Place,' Mr Morrison Told Parliament

Morrison said that once you’ve considered your own experience and what happens when there’s more of you in government, you may be ready to start putting the first stone in these places.

Mr Burke stated that Mr Morrison had undermined and rejected the standards required of parliamentarians.

He According to Mr Morrison, the ex-coalition government had rejected conventions and allowed him to act in that way.

Burke stated that “This place runs on rules, conventions… The concept that the parliament knows which job each person has is essential for responsible government.”

“You can’t have responsible government if people don’t know what they are responsible for.” We didn’t know for two years.

He According to Mr Morrison, the conduct of Mr Morrison prevented the House of Representatives performing its duties and was ‘completely inacceptable’.

Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, spoke out on behalf of the motion. He said: “The truth is that our democracy has value. There is no place for complacency. 

“We’ve seen abroad, including the attack on the Capitol Building, in the United States. That we can’t take democracy for granted.”  

Bridget Archer, Liberal MP and who will vote for the Albanese Labor government to censuring Mr Morrison, stated that the actions of Mr Morrison were an ‘affront to the nation’.

Ms Archer stated that ‘This House has a right to be informed about the appointments’. 

“The Australian people had the right of being informed. What could be more fundamental in our democracy than this? 

“I don’t accept any explanations offered by the former prime minister for these actions, and I’m deeply dissatisfied for the lack or understanding of the consequences of the decisions.

Scott Morrison Is Seen Smiling As Labor'S Leader Of The House Tony Burke Moved The Censure Motion Against Him On Tuesday

Scott Morrison is smiling while Tony Burke, Labor’s Leader of House, moved the censure vote against him on Tuesday

While censure motions don’t have legal consequences, they are rare and allow parliamentarians to disapprove of their fellow members.

Morrison, who was not aware of the majority of his coalition counterparts, appointed himself minister for health, finance and industry between 2020 and 2021.

The government agreed that it would implement the six recommendations of Virginia Bell, an ex-High Court judge and former High Court judge on Mr Morrison’s conduct to improve transparency in ministerial appointment.

Amanda Rishworth, Social Services Minister, said that although parliament was ready to introduce legislation based on the recommendations in this report, a censure still was necessary.

She stated that these are serious allegations and the parliament has a right to debate, discuss, and vote on them.

“It is perfectly appropriate that parliament has a voice, it is the heart and soul of democracy in Australia.

Mr Morrison Sits With Fellow Liberal Mp Alex Hawke (Left) As The Censure Motion Was Moved In The House Of Representatives On Tuesday

Alex Hawke, a Liberal MP, sits alongside Mr Morrison as the House of Representatives passed the censure resolution on Tuesday

Ms. Rishworth stated that it was disappointing that the coalition did not support the censure motion.

She said that it was disappointing that, despite huge public concern, the Liberal Party (and the National party) have not backed this up by sending a strong message to our parliament that this type of…power grab is not appropriate for Australian democracy.

Reporters found that the secrecy surrounding appointments was corrosive to trust in government and undermined public faith in government.

Coalition members are expected to back law changes to improve transparency.

Bruce Billson, Liberal MP in 2018, was the last one to be censured for not declaring payments while still in parliament.

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