Bizarre Scott Morrison bombshell as it’s revealed he ‘held hundreds of meetings with HIMSELF’ – and the ‘blanket’ reason why he did so
- Scott Morrison created a committee while PM of which he was the only member
- Freedom of information request revealed the committee met hundreds of times
- Critics say the setup allowed him to hold secret policy meetings with anyone
- He is already under fire over secretly appointing himself to multiple ministries
Scott Morrison appears to have held hundreds of meetings of a secretive cabinet committee – which he was the only permanent member of.
The-then Prime Minister established the secretive cabinet office policy committee in 2019.
According to Freedom of Information records obtained by The Guardian, from July 2 that year to April 11, 2022, there was an eyebrow-raising 739 sets of meeting minutes.
Critics, including his successor Anthony Albanese and former senator Rex Patrick, claim the ‘committee-of-one’ allowed Mr Morrison to hold official meetings with anyone and keep them under a ‘blanket of secrecy’ for 20 years.
Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison (pictured with wife Jenny) held hundreds of meetings he can keep secret thanks to a committee he setup of which he was the only permanent member
Just what the vast majority of those meetings were about – some 665 – are largely a mystery.
Mr Morrison established the committee after requesting his ministers do ‘deep dives’ on their portfolios, including consultations with interest groups such as corporations, to uncover policy areas that needed to be addressed.
Former Finance Minister Mathias Cormann confirmed he was the ‘permanent’ member of the committee in a Senate estimates meeting in 2020.
Cabinet meetings in Australian politics are covered by confidentiality.
But Mr Albanese alleged that Mr Morrison declaring the COPC a cabinet committee resulted in ‘any meeting that he was in, he could say, ‘Oh well, that was a meeting of this cabinet committee of which I was the only member’.’
Labor’s Penny Wong and Mr Patrick described it as ‘an abuse of process’.
‘A committee of one is not a committee… It allowed Mr Morrison the ability to meet with anyone, including his gardener, and wrap a 20-year secrecy blanket over what was discussed,’ Mr Patrick tweeted.
Former senator Rec Patrick (pictured) said the committee allowed Mr Morrison to hold meetings with anyone about policy issues and discussions kept secret
A court recently ruled national cabinet discussion could be subject to freedom of information because the PM can’t just decide a committee falls under cabinet confidentiality
A freedom of information request from The Guardian this week revealed the eyebrow-raising frequency of COPC meetings.
A Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PMC) spokesperson said the ‘requested documents, [comprise] 739 minutes of the former government’s COPC’.
The spokesperson said some meetings could be double-ups with multiple people taking notes but, even accounting for those, the CPOC seems to have met hundreds of times.
Any decisions or recommendations from the COPC were still required to pass through the normal cabinet and parliamentary process.
Mr Morrison defended the COPC through a spokesperson saying it allowed more ‘targeted, effective and dynamic discussions’.
‘Numerous meetings were held across the full spectrum of federal government policy responsibilities. The COPC process proved very effective and practical in working though complex policy issues.
‘The process was modelled on the [national security committee] and [expenditure review committee] process, where officials and experts join these discussions to assist with discussion of policy development.’
Mr Morrison is already under fire after it was revealed he had secretly given himself the powers to act as health minister, finance minister, resources minister, home affairs minister and treasurer in 2020 and 2021 – a move criticised on all sides of politics for being undemocratic.
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a National Cabinet press conference in 2020 (pictured)