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Australia’s top spies kept in the dark about secret Morrison appointments

Their job is to know other people’s secrets, but even Australia’s top spies didn’t know about Scott Morrison’s five hidden wallets.

In a stunning spin on the former prime minister’s moonlighting, the ABC can reveal that the country’s top intelligence officials were also kept in the dark because of his clandestine power grab.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese confirmed that the powerful Home Office was among five additional portfolios his predecessor had secretly taken over over the past two years.

At the time of Mr Morrison’s covert takeover, the mega Home Office was responsible for immigration, cybersecurity, the Australian Federal Police and the domestic intelligence agency, ASIO.

Manager unaware

The ABC confirmed that Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo was never told the Prime Minister was also sworn into the portfolio in May 2021, alongside current minister Karen Andrews.

ASIO general manager Mike Burgess was also kept in the dark about the nominations.(ABC News: Adam Kennedy)

Other senior intelligence officials, including ASIO Director General Mike Burgess, were unaware until this week that, until Election Day, they officially also reported directly to the former Prime Minister as part of its expanded ministerial roles.

“We had no idea that Scott Morrison was actually our minister. It’s quite surprising,” a veteran of the intelligence community told the ABC.

Earlier this year the ABC revealed that Mr Morrison had controversially asked the Home Office to publicize the interception of a suspected asylum seeker boat on Election Day, contrary to practice previous government.

A man wearing a suit and glasses gestures with both hands as he speaks.
Home Affairs Secretary Mike Pezzullo was not told of Scott Morrison’s appointment to five portfolios.(ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

Election Day Boat Reveal

Last month, an internal affairs inquiry ordered by the Albanian government confirmed that Scott Morrison’s office had ordered the arrival of the boat to be made public, but it has since emerged that the former prime minister also phoned then Home Secretary Karen Andrews to make the request.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese highlighted the controversial election day announcement of a boat arrival while revealing the full extent of Mr Morrison’s secret ministerial takeovers.

“We asked about the role of the then Home Secretary and the announcement made by the person we thought was just the Prime Minister, but we know was also responsible for the administration of the Home Office during this shocking breach of government policy,” he said.

Ms Andrews is now leading calls from within the Liberal Party for Scott Morrison to resign from the Federal Parliament over ‘shameful behaviour’.

“It actually diminishes it, but it just undermines and diminishes the cabinet at the time,” Ms Andrews told the ABC.

“If this is how he is prepared to conduct himself, without adequate explanation – even though the time when such an explanation should have been made is now well past – then it is time for him to leave parliament and seek a employment elsewhere.

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