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

Scott Morrison defends himself with a VERY religious message as Parliament prepares to make him the first Prime Minister in history to be censured: Here are the consequences

  • Scott Morrison has stood up in Parliament to defend himself as he faces censure
  • Government House leader Tony Burke moved the motion on Wednesday 
  • ‘This is not some small matter … goes to the absolute core of responsible govt’
  • Mr Burke said Mr Morrison had undermined standards expected of MPs

Former prime minister Scott Morrison is being censured by the federal parliament for his decision to secretly take on additional ministerial portfolios – as he strenuously defended himself for his actions.

It is the first time the House has taken this action against a former prime minister – with Liberal and Nationals MPs walking out of the chamber rather than voting.

House leader Tony Burke moved the motion on Wednesday and said while censures were rare, they had their place in parliament.

‘The court is the place to determine whether or not something was lawful, but in the parliament we determine whether or not something was appropriate,’ he said.

‘This is not some small matter. It goes to the absolute core of the principle of responsible government.’

Mr Morrison stood in the chamber at 9.30am to vigorously defend his actions. 

‘I have no intention now of submitting to the political intimidation of this government, using its numbers in this place to impose its retribution on a political opponent,’ he told the parliament.

Mr Morrison stood in the chamber to vigorously defend his actions as he became the first former prime minister to face a censure motion by the House of Representatives

Mr Morrison stood in the chamber to vigorously defend his actions as he became the first former prime minister to face a censure motion by the House of Representatives

‘I repeat that I have welcomed and supported the recommendations of the Bell inquiry.

‘For those who wish to add their judgement today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following – have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?

‘In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right? And where you may have made errors, were you fortunate enough for them to have had no material impact on the result and the result itself proved to be world-leading?

‘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.’

'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

‘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

Mr Burke said Mr Morrison had undermined, rejected, attacked and abused the standards expected of parliamentarians.

He said the former coalition government had attacked conventions and enabled the behaviour of Mr Morrison.

‘This place runs on rules and conventions … the concept that the parliament knows who has which job is essential to responsible government,’ Mr Burke said.

‘You cannot have responsible government if you do not know what people are responsible for. And for two years we did not know.’

He said Mr Morrison’s conduct prevented the House of Representatives from doing its job and it was ‘so completely unacceptable’.

At least one Liberal MP, Bridget Archer, plans to vote with the Albanese Labor government.

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 seen smiling as Labor’s Leader of the House Tony Burke moved the censure motion against him on Tuesday

Censure motions do not have any legal consequences, but they are rare and give parliamentarians the chance to formally disapprove of their colleagues.

Mr Morrison appointed himself minister of health, finance, industry, science, energy and resources, treasury and home affairs between 2020 and 2021, without the knowledge of most of his coalition colleagues.

The government agreed to implement all six recommendations from former High Court judge Virginia Bell’s report into Mr Morrison’s conduct, to improve the transparency of ministerial appointments.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said while parliament was set to introduce legislation following the recommendations in the report, a censure was still necessary.

‘These are really serious allegations and the parliament has the right to debate them, to discuss them, and to vote on these actions,’ she told ABC TV on Wednesday.

‘It is entirely appropriate that the parliament has a say, it is the heart 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

Mr Morrison sits with fellow Liberal MP Alex Hawke (left) as the censure motion was moved in the House of Representatives on Tuesday

Ms Rishworth said it was disheartening the coalition was not backing the censure motion.

‘It is very disappointing that despite the huge public concern over this issue, the Liberal Party and the National party have decided not to back this up with sending a strong message from our parliament, that this type of … power grab is not appropriate in Australian democracy,’ she said.

The report found the secrecy surrounding the appointments were corrosive of trust in government and undermined public confidence in government.

Law changes to improve transparency are expected to get the coalition’s backing.

The last MP to be censured was Liberal MP Bruce Billson in 2018 for not declaring payments while he was still in parliament.

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