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Former Australia PM Morrison faces calls to resign over secret self-appointments

Scott Morrison, Australia's PM from 2018 to last May, offered an apology on Tuesday and said the self-appointments were made only to use in case of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. File Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE
Scott Morrison, Australia's PM from 2018 to last May, offered an apology on Tuesday and said the self-appointments were made only to use in case of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic. File Photo by Lukas Coch/EPA-EFE

Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is facing calls for him to resign from parliament after revelations that while in power he secretly appointed himself to five ministries, often without the knowledge of those running the departments.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday that he's waiting for legal advice on what can be done now that Morrison is no longer in the leadership post, and how to prevent the same thing from happening again.

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The unannounced self-appointments secretly gave Morrison final decision-making power in the ministries of health, finance, treasury, home affairs and industry.

Morrison, who was Australia's PM from 2018 to last May, offered an apology on Tuesday and said the self-appointments were made only to use in case of emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"These were extraordinary times and they required extraordinary measures to respond," Morrison said in a post to Facebook. "Our government's overriding objective was to save lives and livelihoods, which we achieved."

"To achieve this, we needed to ensure continuity of government and robust administrative arrangements to deal with the unexpected in what was a period of constant uncertainty during the nation's biggest crisis outside of wartime," he added.

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Peter Dutton, head of Morrison's Liberal Party, has defended the former prime minister and accused of Albanese -- leader of the opposition Australian Labor Party -- of trying to score political points on the issue.

Karen Andrews, who was home affairs minister under Morrison, said that she was blindsided by the revelations and has called for his resignation. He represents the division of Cook in Australian Parliament.

"I had absolutely no knowledge and was not told by the [prime minister, the prime minister's office] nor the department secretary," Andrews said according to the Australian Broadcasting Corp. "This undermines the integrity of government. I think that Scott Morrison needs to resign, and he needs to leave parliament."

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