Monday 15 August 2022 11:28 PM Malcolm Turnbull slams Scott Morrison over secret portfolios but praises ... trends now
A new book has revealed the ex-PM decided at the start of the crisis in 2020 that he wanted to share power with the health and finance ministers to prevent them wielding too much influence over the nation's biosecurity laws and coffers.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is now seeking advice on the legality of his predecessor's appointments - and has suggested Mr Morrison could have appointed himself to further positions.
An 'astonished' Mr Turnbull weighed into the saga with a scathing attack of his former treasurer and successor on the ABC's 7.30 program last night, describing Mr Morrison's actions as one of the most appalling things I have ever heard in our federal government.'
The former Coalition leader also raised eyebrows by praising Mr Albanese's response to the revelations.
'The idea that a Prime Minister would be sworn in to other ministries, secretly, is incredible,' Mr Turnbull said.
Scott Morrison (pictured on election day with wife Jenny) has been labeled as sinister by
'I'm astonished that Morrison thought he could do it, I'm astonished that Prime Minister and Cabinet went along with it - that's the department - and I'm even more astonished than anyone that the Governor-General was party it to.'
'I mean, this is this is sinister stuff. This is secret government. What Albanese said today about it is absolutely right. This is the sort of thing that - it is not something we associate with our form of democracy.'
He added he never took on secret roles during his three years as prime minister. Mr Turnbull said Mr Morrison's actions fly in the face of everything Australians believe in about democracy.
'Doing things in this secret way, I mean, what's democracy about?' he continued.
'I mean, fundamentally, we, the people, are entitled to know who is governing our country. We need to know who is the minister for this? Who is the minister for that? If, in fact, these things are all being done secretly, that's not a democracy.'
Mr Turnbull said he cannot explain or understand why Mr Morrison didn't openly disclose his secret portfolios.
'Let's assume as Prime Minister - I know what that's like - you felt that you needed to have the discretions and authorities of the Health Minister or the Finance Minister.
'Well, then, you should do it openly. You should be sworn to those portfolios and then explain why you want to do it,' he said.
'To do it secretly in a way that the public don't know about it, and your Cabinet colleagues don't know about it, is incredible.
'This is not - Scott was meant to be leading a centre-right conservative government. This is not conservative.
'This is throwing aside all of the traditions of Westminster parliamentary democracy.'
Former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull (pictured) unleashed an extraordinary attack on successor Scott Morrison on Monday night
Nationals leader David Littleproud denied any knowledge of Mr Morrison's secret portfolios, despite serving on his frontbench as agricultural minister. He agreed an explanation is warranted.
'I think it is quite ordinary that he took these steps without actually letting other members of that Cabinet know that step had been taken,' Mr Littleproud told the Today show on Tuesday morning.
'That is the collegiate way that Cabinet usually operates. It should have been made aware to all ministers that was the reasoning.
'It is important that Scott Morrison comes forward to give the explanation. It is disappointing that Cabinet hasn't been respected in the way I would have expected it to be.'
'These are the institutions that have served us well over many generations and it is important that trust is put back into them.
'I think Scott Morrison can do that very quickly if he comes forward.'Drugging himself to sleep
The new book Plagued also revealed Mr Morrison used to drug himself with sedatives to get a good night's sleep during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The former Prime Minister would often wake up at 3am, his mind whirring about how to tackle the crisis.
Scott Morrison (pictured in March 2022) suffered insomnia and used to drug himself with sleeping pills to get a good night's rest during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic
Sometimes the insomniac PM would resort to taking a sleeping pills so that he could get to some rest and properly function the next day.
The book, written by political journalists Geoff Chambers and Simon Benson from The Australian newspaper, also canvasses some of the policies Australia nearly embraced to fight the pandemic, including restrictions at the pub.
In a section on Mr Morrison's sleepless nights, the book says: 'He'd often wake at 3am, wrestling with the scale of what was facing the country and his responsibilities dealing with it.
'He'd rouse in a fitful state and look at the ceiling for hours on end, saying to himself: ''I have to sleep or I won't get through this week''.'
Mr Morrison suffered one of these episodes before one cabinet meeting on June 3, 2020. He took half a sleeping pill to help him dose off.
The former Prime Minister had also suffered from insomnia when he was preparing for a budget as treasurer under Malcolm Turnbull, according to the book.
The book also reveals some of the Covid-19 restrictions that were discussed between Mr Morrison and the state premiers in the early days of national cabinet.
One idea that was not taken up was to allow drinkers into a pub for two hours on a rotation system using wristbands.
The former Prime Minister (pictured with wife Jenny) would often wake up at 3am, his mind whirring about how to tackle the crisis
The former PM recalled: 'We were talking about pubs... the idea of people only being allowed in for two hours, how would you rotate them in and out - with wristbands or stamps'.
When Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews informed the media of their March 2020 lockdowns, the