Former Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s secret ministries were unnecessary, a Virginia Bell investigation has found

The results of the investigation into Scott Morrison’s self-appointment as Secretary of State have been released.

Former High Court Judge Virginia Bell says the former Prime Minister’s actions undermined public confidence and were ultimately unnecessary.

Here are some key takeaways from the report.

Morrison considered appointing himself to a sixth ministry

In 2020 and 2021, Scott Morrison secretly appointed to manage the Departments of Health, Treasury, Treasury, Home & Industry, Science, Energy and Resources.

Today, Ms Bell’s report revealed that Mr Morrison intended to appoint himself to a sixth department: the Department for Agriculture, Water and Environment (DAWE).

She said the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO) had instructed the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) to prepare a brief for his appointment to manage the department.

But Mr Morrison didn’t pull it off.

“Subsequently, Mr. Morrison decided not to proceed with the appointment to manage DAWE,” the report reads.

Close-up of Scott Morrison's face
Scott Morrison says he welcomes the inquiry’s recommendations.(ABC Alice Springs: Xavier Martin)

Ultimately, Morrison’s appointments were unnecessary

Mr Morrison argues he appointed himself to the positions in response to the demands of the COVID pandemic and as a safeguard should the Health or Finance Secretary become incapacitated.

However, Ms Bell found that the appointments were unnecessary.

She said Mr Morrison could have been authorized to act “within minutes” for either minister if that was required.

PM&C noted that Morrison’s appointments were “somewhat unusual”.

Ms Bell said PM&C Secretary Phil Gaetjens thought Mr Morrison’s appointment as Health and Finance Officer was appropriate given the circumstances.

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