Governor-General David Hurley has broken his silence on the Scott Morrison ministerial scandal, standing firm on his actions over the five extraordinary appointments.
In his first public comments since the former prime minister’s secret adoption of a host of other frontbench roles emerged, Mr Hurley refused to comment on whether he expected Mr Morrison’s extra portfolios to be made public.
“I’ve released a statement about my role in this, my responsibilities under the principle of responsible government, by which we run our country,” he told the ABC.
“I’m content at the moment to allow the processes the Prime Minister (Anthony Albanese) has put in place to run through until next week.
“In the meantime I’ll continue to do my job as I have done it in the past.”
Earlier, Mr Morrison defended the Governor-General’s role in assisting his secret appointments.
“The Governor-General took the advice of the day from the government and acted accordingly,” he said in Sydney.
“The Governor-General acted with absolute propriety and did everything that was expected of him in these arrangements, and he would have [also] taken the necessary advice from his own office.”
Mr Morrison was appointed to the health, finance, resources, home affairs and treasury portfolios in 2020 and 2021 without informing his cabinet or the Australian public.
The administrative appointments were made between his department of prime minister and cabinet and the governor-general’s office, Mr Morrison said.
“There was no swearing-in ceremonies, that is the point. These things were done administratively,” he said.
Mr Albanese said he too would not undertake any criticism of the governor-general.
“The government of the day has to accept responsibility for this and the people who were involved in it directly have to accept responsibility,” he said in Brisbane on Wednesday.
“Our democracy is precious [and] we need to defend it and strengthen it, not undermine it which is what the former government has done.”
Sitting parliamentarians, though, are questioning Mr Hurley’s role in the secretive process.
Independent senator Jacqui Lambie has called on Mr Hurley to explain the legal advice he received to appoint Mr Morrison to the additional portfolios.
“[Mr Hurley]needs to come out and tell us where he got his advice from, he’s going to have to run through and explain it,” Senator Lambie told ABC Radio National on Wednesday.
“If there’s been no legal breach here, then obviously he’s done nothing wrong.”
The solicitor-general is preparing advice, which will be handed on Monday to Mr Albanese, on the legality of the appointments.
“As long as it’s been legally done correctly then the Governor-General will survive another day,” Senator Lambie said.
Meanwhile, Labor backbencher Julian Hill suggested Mr Hurley’s position could be untenable and called on him to explain the part he played in the appointments.
“The Governor-General seems to have effectively participated in a scheme that misled the cabinet, the parliament and the public as to the allocation of ministerial power,” he told Nine newspapers.
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the Governor-General said Mr Hurley followed processes consistent with the constitution when he appointed Mr Morrison to the portfolios, upon government advice.
“It is not uncommon for ministers to be appointed to administer departments other than their portfolio responsibility,” the official said.
“These appointments do not require a swearing-in ceremony. The governor-general signs an administrative instrument on the advice of the prime minister.”