Morrison scandal raises urgent questions over AUKUS deal
Published: Aug 18, 2022 05:25 PM
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacting during a press conference at Australia's Parliament House in Canberra on March 22, 2021. Photo: VCG

Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison reacting during a press conference at Australia's Parliament House in Canberra on March 22, 2021. Photo: VCG

In what is probably the biggest political scandal to hit Australia since the unconstitutional sacking of Labor prime minister, Gough Whitlam, on 11 November 1975, former prime minister, Scott Morrison, acting in secret and without the knowledge of cabinet or indeed anyone else in Australia, was able to convince his friend and religious companion, then governor general, General Hurley, to appoint him as minister to a total of five portfolios including, Treasury and Home Affairs. 

Morrison claims he undertook the extraordinary action in order to handle the coronavirus pandemic, a spurious claim as he failed to order sufficient vaccines and in fact state premiers successfully contained the virus outbreak in their states without the help of Morrison. 

The truth relating to his usurping and willful undermining of parliamentary conventions and established practice has greatly angered and at the same time embarrassed the new Labor government of Anthony Albanese. Morrison has once again made a fool of Australia internationally.

He did it most spectacularly with his ill-considered and unjustified criticism of China over the outbreak of COVID-19, where he was widely seen to have acted as the stalking horse for former US president Donald Trump. 

He did it over his embrace of AUKUS which included the precipitate cancelling of a submarine deal with France, consideration of which was a closely held secret in Canberra, apparently confined to a few close advisers.

Prime Minister Albanese, although angry, has stayed his hand, resisting calls to criticize the governor general who was clearly out of line. He claims he did not know Morrison was acting secretly. A claim that is difficult to believe. In fact, it appears on the evidence available more likely that the two acted conspiratorially.

It is understandable that Albanese would want to minimize damage to Australia from claims of being a banana republic, but it is also indefensible. The truth must come out.

There are grave matters of national security at stake. We know from information released so far that Morrison held the portfolio of Home Affairs, did he also hold the portfolio of Defense? Did he alone negotiate the ill-fated submarine deal and the framework of the so called AUKUS arrangement, understanding or whatever it is. 

To date, the Australian parliament and people are in the dark, except for statements of interoperability with US forces and enhancement, amounting to a takeover, of Australian bases. All without scrutiny and treaty arrangements. It has been a cowboy operation. And all initially driven by Morrison. Incredibly, given its history, the Albanese government has gone along with it. No pause for thought or consideration.

The US saw the opportunity Morrison offered and played him like the fool. They are intent on locking Australia into AUKUS. The aim of AUKUS appears to be to use Australian territory and resources to threaten and perhaps attack China. The Australian people, through parliament, have been given no information on the details of what is proposed under AUKUS or indeed what it entails. No opportunity for debate has yet been provided. To say Australia has been railroaded would be an understatement.

If Morrison did not abrogate himself powers under an assumed mantle of ministerial defence responsibilities, perhaps he did it under security provisions contained within the Home Affairs portfolio. Whichever way it occurred the illegal stamp of Morrison appears all over AUKUS.

Morrison was the virtual dictator of Australia and behaved accordingly. What else did he do and commit Australia to? In the absence of a healthy and questing media in Australia, Morrison was able to capture defence and foreign policy, aided by the dangerous and complicit ASPI. The Australia media, through Murdoch's unhealthy dominance, has in fact been partisan.

The heads of Australian intelligence agencies, have all claimed no knowledge of Morrisons capture of government. Quite incredible and quite impossible in the bubble of babble which is Canberra. If true their agencies have failed because from one source or another they should have been informed, at another level it is absolute rubbish. Intelligence agencies are such bitchy gossip venues with well-developed antennae that a Prime Minister behaving as an out-of-control freak would have been on the Monday discussion agenda. More likely they were in on the deal, which means heads should roll. They should roll anyway. 

The author is a retired diplomat and political commentator. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn