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Australia's former prime minister and federal Member for Cook Scott Morrison speaks to media during in Sydney.

AAP Image/Flavio Brancaleone via Reuters

What We're Watching: An Australian scandal, Israel and Turkey restore ties, North Korea in the Donbas

A rare scandal Down Under

Australia’s former Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, who lost general elections in May, is back in the spotlight after it was revealed this week that, at the height of the pandemic, he secretly appointed himself to head five additional ministries. (The Governor General – the Queen’s representative that formally presides over the executive – signed off on this.) Documents reveal that in 2020, Morrison, who now remains in parliament in the opposition, tapped himself to head the health and finance portfolios, followed by several other ministries the following year, including energy and resources. Making matters worse, Morrison’s colleagues in the Liberal Party didn’t know their boss had assumed these powers. In a defiant press conference Wednesday, Morrison said that he took this drastic move because of the public health emergency, and that he never acted as minister despite being secretly sworn into those positions. But the former PM remains in hot water: a mining company is accusing Morrison of “bias” for killing a permit to explore and drill for gas off the coast of New South Wales when he was secretly acting as head of the energy portfolio. Anthony Albanese, Australia’s new PM from the opposing Labor Party, said he is seeking advice on what – if any – the legal implications are. Meanwhile, several members of Morrison's own party have called for his resignation from parliament.

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