ScoMo Broke No Laws Says the Solicitor General

Ministry appointments were valid but inconsistent with convention. Meanwhile, what of GG David Hurley’s role in this dumpster fire?

Anthony Albanese will launch an inquiry into Scott Morrison’s secret ministries following advice from the solicitor-general.(ABC News: Matt Roberts

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-23/scott-morrisons-secret-appointment-valid-but-inconsistent/101352630

The spirit of the law was broken.

The letter of the law vs. the spirit of the law.

The “letter of the law” is quite literally the written laws and rules legislated in a particular jurisdiction, in this case, Australia.

The “spirit of the law” however refers to the actual intent behind the law.

Click on the link below to read an excellent honours thesis on the subject.

https://lsa.umich.edu/content/dam/orgstudies-assets/orgstudiesdocuments/oshonors/oshonorsthesis/Matt%20Gordon_Honors%20Thesis.pdf

While ScoMo might not have broken the letter of the law with his actions, it can be debated that he was in fact in violation of the spirit under which the makers of those laws wrote them. Think of it as a way of not being able to get away with something on a technicality.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, announcing that the government will launch a wide-ranging inquiry aimed at preventing a prime minister from secretly amassing new ministerial powers. Albanese’s predecessor Scott Morrison has been widely criticized over recent revelations that he had secretly appointed himself to five ministerial roles between March 2020 and May 2021, usually without the knowledge of the original minister. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/australia-prevent-prime-ministers-gaining-secret-powers-88725566

Hurley’s excuse doesn’t feed the bulldog.

Scott Morrison and David Hurley (Photos: AP/Kiyoshi Ota, Office of the Governor-General of Australia)

“The governor-general had no reason to believe that appointments would not be communicated.”

Excerpt from statement released by the Governor General’s Office.

This statement in and of itself is absolutely laughable. Didn’t Hurley find it odd that after several months there didn’t appear to be ANY kind of communication about the appointments, either in the press or through the political grapevine? Why didn’t he make any inquiries? In the words of the esteemed television jurist, Judge Judith Sheindlin, “It doesn’t make sense!”.

Quid pro quo?

It is up to the Prime Minister to recommend to the Queen whom she should select as her next representative in Australia and the other members of the British Commonwealth. While I’m sure that in the vast majority of instances there is no quid pro quo offered, it would be naive to think that in at least a couple of instances throughout the history of the Commonwealth there was.

Apart from being a personal honour granted to someone who has performed outstanding public service, the position of Governor General could also be seen as a political plum appointment. A way of rewarding those who were loyal and valuable to the PM or his/her political party.

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/australia-is-not-a-finished-product-general-david-hurley-sworn-in-as-27th-governor-general-20190701-p522xb.html

A thing with the Liberal Party of Australia?

Then Attorney-General Christian Porter and then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull clashed over Turnbull’s last-ditch plan to bring in the Governor-General.CREDIT:ANDREW MEARES

https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/that-is-wrong-in-law-turnbull-tried-to-bring-in-governor-general-in-last-ditch-act-20190627-p521nz.html

Former Liberal PM Malcolm Turnbull attempted to politicize the Governor General’s office when he sought to have the GG interfere in an election result that would have seen his rival, Peter Dutton, ineligible to run for parliament, thereby negating him as the new party leader. He appears to have based his arguments around loopholes in the law, though this last-ditch effort borne of desperation would go nowhere.

The nuclear option.

If Anthony Albanese asked for Hurley’s resignation and this request was subsequently rebuffed, Albanese would then have the option of asking the monarch to replace the Governor General on his advice.

Queen Elizabeth II

Precedent.

Julie Payette, pictured on July 13, 2017, the day Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced she would be Canada’s 29th governor general. Ms. Payette’s five-year term is scheduled to run until at least 2022, but she is now facing calls to resign after multiple former Rideau Hall employees told the CBC that she had allegedly harassed them. The Hill Times file photograph by Jake Wright

https://www.hilltimes.com/2020/08/03/should-she-stay-or-should-she-go-experts-on-constitution-politics-split-on-governor-generals-fate/258539

On January 21st, 2021, Canada’s 29th Governor-General, former astronaut Julie Payette, resigned with several years remaining in her term amid a growing toxic workplace scandal. Justin Trudeau didn’t seem to have vetted Payette, and if he did it makes it an even worse mistake. He picked someone who wasn’t appropriate for the position simply because they had celebrity cachet. Payette was also resistant to step down initially but eventually caved in after realizing there was no other choice left, sensing Trudeau might be forced to petition the Queen to replace her, making things even more of an embarrassment for her.

A boon for journos in Australia and everywhere.

Meanwhile, as ScoMo and Hurley double down, journalists are secretly hoping they fight it out to the very bitter end because frankly, this is the type of gift that just keeps on giving for us. I’m also sure that deep down, Anthony Albanese and the ruling Labor government are hoping for the same thing as well, if for no other reason than it will all but guarantee them election victories for some time to come.

Stay tuned for more weirdness.

I’ll do my best to keep you up to date with this bizarre political saga as events happen, so make sure to keep some popcorn handy.

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