Scott Morrison Has Been Accused of Running a ‘Shadow Government’ but What Does That Mean?

Scott Morrison Has Been Accused of Running a ‘Shadow Government’ but What Does That Mean?

If you’ve been following the news, you may have heard that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has accused Scott Morrison of running a ‘shadow government’ after reports emerged that Morrison swore himself into additional portfolios while he was PM.

“Australians knew during the election campaign that I was running a shadow ministry,” Albanese said at a press conference.

“What they didn’t know was that Scott Morrison was running a shadow government. How is it that the Australian people can be misled? We know now Scott Morrison was not only Prime Minister but was Minister for Health, Minister for Science and Industry… was the Minister for Finance.”

As the Sydney Morning Herald has reported, the whole debacle is capturing the attention of the masses because of the secrecy that surrounded it all. Governor-General David Hurley has commented, stating that such appointments are in line with the constitution, while constitutional law expert Anne Twomey spoke with ABC TV and called the news “bizarre”.

“The secretness of it is the weird thing,” she said. “I mean, it’s not strange that [Morrison] might want to have a second person who was able to take over if the first person was incapacitated, etc. But there are ways of doing that anyway. And ordinarily, if you do something like that, the basic rules are you announce it to parliament because parliament needs to know who is responsible.”

In a nutshell, she said there are protocols for moves like this and if it had been made public it would have been a non-issue. “But hiding it? That’s weird,” she said.

In any case, if you’re following along and want to know what Albanese means by the term ‘shadow government’, here’s a quick explainer.

What is a shadow government?

Shadow government (also known as invisible government) has been around as a term for a long time now. It’s been thrown around with regard to powerful organisations and assorted governments for decades.

Essentially, it refers to cases where people or groups who have not officially been elected into government roles exercise extreme power still.

Merriam Webster defines an invisible government (interchangeable with shadow government) this way:

A government controlled by a person (as a boss) or an agency (as a pressure group) holding no official position and usually held to be unknown to the public.

In this case, we can assume Prime Minister Albanese is using the term to refer to the suggestion that Morrison’s reported additional portfolios were not made known to the Australian public.

“Australians will be scratching their head today knowing that the government that they thought was there, wasn’t actually the Australian Government at all,” Albanese has said.

The latest in this story is that Scott Morrison has since responded to these reports. As the ABC shares, Morrison spoke with radio station 2GB and confirmed the claims he appointed himself to the health, finance and resources portfolios, stating that “unprecedented times” was his reasoning. Morrison didn’t dispute reports he also took over the social services portfolio and shared that he did not recall if he was sworn into others.

“I don’t recall that … I don’t dispute that and my answer for all that is the same, we were dealing with an incredible amount of discretion and money being paid,” Morrison said.

“They were unprecedented times and as a result they were very unconventional times.

“Fortunately, none of these [appointments] in the case of the finance and the health portfolio were ever required to be used.”

With regard to the secrecy surrounding these appointments, Morrison shared this decision was between him and the ministers involved.

Read the full response here.

Albanese has said the government will investigate further, so we’ll be seeing more on this in the coming days. But in the interim, hopefully this offers a little more clarity on the comments made.

This article has been updated since its original publish date to include a response made by Scott Morrison.

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