“The Fixer”


Over the past few days excerpts from Simon Benson’s and Geoff Chambers’ new book, Plagued, have appeared in the media. (Admission: I have only read the first excerpt, which appeared in the Weekend Australian, but since then through the media more details have emerged.)

What initially struck me about this first report was the reason given for the addition of the health portfolio to Scott Morrison’s then prime ministerial responsibilities, and the level of power, (and therefore risk to the nation), that section 475 of the Biosecurity Act could afford to the Federal Health Minister if invoked by the Governor General, (*though with the subsequent disclosures today in the press this aspect of what was going on in the previous government during the pandemic is being overtaken by events, but I will plug on).

Reported in the excerpt is that the first aspect to the change to the ministerial responsibilities of Scott Morrison as prime minister arises because the Victorian president of the Australian Medical Association, Julian Rait, advised Minister Hunt that,

Hunt and the other political leaders of the day needed to draw some crucial lessons from the 1919 pandemic. Chief among them was how federalism almost collapsed when the politicians let themselves believe they were medical experts. They needed a mechanism that put the expert health advice at the apex of political decision making, along with a unified national approach from all levels of government. Hunt swiftly relayed Rait’s observations to Scott Morrison.

The second aspect to the change to Scott Morrison’s ministerial responsibilities arises the authors tell us because,

A declaration under section 475 gave Hunt as health minister exclusive and extraordinary powers. He, and only he, could personally make directives that overrode any other law and were not disallowable by parliament. He had authority to direct any citizen in the country to do something, or not do something, to prevent spread of the disease. Morrison knew that if he asked the Governor-General to invoke section 475, he effectively would be handing Hunt control of the country. If they were going to use them, Morrison wanted protocols set up as well as a formal process to impose constraints. The protocols required the minister to provide written medical advice and advance notice of his intentions to the national security cabinet.

Revealed, is that the Federal Government did indeed have extraordinary powers to control, direct or constrain what the state premiers were doing during the pandemic if s. 475 was invoked. And with the addition of protocols to provide written medical advice and to provide advance notice of the Federal Health Minister’s intentions to the national security cabinet, the control and direction during the pandemic did have the prime minister at the centre of that decision-making and far enough in front to be well beyond the premiers’ preview. Conversely, if s. 475 was not invoked, then why take this course of action?


But this revelation of the question of using s. 475 is at odds with what Morrison said at his February 1, 2022, National Press Club Address, and which I wrote about and quoted from on NewCat on February 5:

There, Morrison said:

‘The pandemic did not suspend the constitution or the federation. It did not change what the States and the Commonwealth have always been responsible for: they didn’t get any more powers they didn’t get any less; and I have always sought to put the national interest first by seeking to work together with the Premiers and the Chief Ministers through the National Cabinet and not engage in petty fights…my job was keep everybody together in the room working together…and I have sought to work together…’

When Scott Morrison made those remarks at the National Press Club on February 1, 2022, those words were not correct. S.475 did materially alter what the Commonwealth and the States were doing – and could do – during the two and half years of the pandemic and without the constraint of the constitution or the federation. Through the position of (“shadow”) Federal Health Minister and the powers of s. 475, to allow or disallow the state governments’ blanket vaccine mandates, police powers abuse, and the banning of healthy people from earning a living were entirely within his control.

(*The revelation today that using the same administrative instrument that circumvented the requirement to be sworn in by the Governor General, Scott Morrison also became the Finance Minister alongside Matthias Cormann and, later, Energy Minister alongside Angus Taylor and Resources Minister alongside Keith Pitt, and without the knowledge of these ministers, or seemingly the remainder of the Cabinet, the Coalition, the Parliament or the people.)


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Leon L.
Leon L.
August 16, 2022 7:54 am

With all due respect, section 51 xxiii a) of the Australian constitution states:

the provision of maternity allowances, widows’ pensions, child endowment, unemployment, pharmaceutical, sickness and hospital benefits, medical and dental services (but not so as to authorize any form of civil conscription), benefits to students and family allowances;

Using s. 475 is unconstitutional as it proscribes medical treatments.
That is why Morrison used the unconstitutional “National Cabinet” to achieve his ends.
The absence of the courts, especially the high court, since February 2020 to stand up for basic human rights is beyond words.

Roger
Roger
August 16, 2022 8:05 am

Through the position of (“shadow”) Federal Health Minister and the powers of s. 475, to allow or disallow the state governments’ blanket vaccine mandates, police powers abuse, and the banning of healthy people from earning a living were entirely within his control.

I doubt such actions would have stood up to a HC challenge by the states.

Morrison was correct when he said the Constitution was not suspended, nor could it be.

flyingduk
flyingduk
August 16, 2022 8:22 am

The absence of the courts, especially the high court, since February 2020 to stand up for basic human rights is beyond words.

Its the fourth turning – EVERY SINGLE institution which should have protected the people failed: the police, the courts, the media, our political representatives, the professional bodies, the health professionals themselves, science itself….

Shy Ted
Shy Ted
August 16, 2022 8:25 am

Bullshit cover story for the worldwide WEF-coordinated actions of the last 2+ years. Why did the equivalent happen in the “progressive” countries? Masks, lockdowns, isolation, fake tests, outright lies about numbers, asymptomatic people treated as sick and so on. Treason. Funny it’s come out shortly after Trump states “I hope they look at Australia” in the latest attempt to get him. ? take them for a joyride.

Rabz
August 16, 2022 8:51 am

A declaration under section 475 gave … health minister exclusive and extraordinary powers. He, and only he, could personally make directives that overrode any other law and were not disallowable by parliament.

These “powers” need to be abolished, along with all the other powers (real and imaginary) that these foul fascist imbeciles gifted themselves during the two and a half years (and counting) of bat flu hysteria.

If they’re incapable of not abusing them then they shouldn’t have access to them in the first place.

Now let’s get on the long overdue trials and the calling to account of these evil stupid quisling bastards.

Oh come on
Oh come on
August 16, 2022 8:58 am

So if there’s any outrage to be had over ScoMo’s weird secret ministerial takeover of several departments, it’s over acts of omission rather than commission. Which is the story of his entire government, really. What a waste of space he and his mob were.

Petros
Petros
August 16, 2022 9:14 am

Another Pentecostal nutter.

flyingduk
flyingduk
August 16, 2022 9:31 am

Bullshit cover story for the worldwide WEF-coordinated actions of the last 2+ years. Why did the equivalent happen in the “progressive” countries? Masks, lockdowns, isolation, fake tests, outright lies about numbers, asymptomatic people treated as sick and so on.

Correct, it was a worldwide top down script rolled out irrespective of national leadership.

We are at war people, waged upon us by our own governments. All the weapons have been deployed – censorship, propaganda, movement restrictions, Identity papers, war emergency control of the economy and militarised police and the military itself on our streets.

Wars don’t end with a scientific paper, legal injunction or a protest. Wars end with Hitler face down in the bunker and the capital in flames. This only stops when it gets bad enough to put a million people in the streets – our Sri Lanka moment.

COVID was only a ‘target of opportunity’ – the real targets in war are the food, fuel and power supplies, and they are already porting over to attack these (under the guise of saving the planet).

Old School Conservative
Old School Conservative
August 16, 2022 9:48 am

Surely the secrecy of Morrison’s actions is the greatest “tell” about his underhanded motives.
If this move was in the national interest, the nation would have been informed.
That pantywaisted LNP apologist Michael Kroger said on Bolt last night that one reason for the doubling up of Ministers was to ensure a quick response to urgent health issues if the Health Minister was sick with Covid.
Good luck trying to sell that pork pie to the electorate. Hence the need for secrecy and pulling the wool over Australians’ eyes.

Zyconoclast
Zyconoclast
August 16, 2022 10:08 am

Morrison was correct when he said the Constitution was not suspended, nor could it be.

But it was ignored.

So not worth the paper it’s written on.

JohnL
August 16, 2022 10:13 am

Start with “Nurenberg style” trials and bring back the death penalty!!!!!!!!!!!!

m0nty
m0nty
August 16, 2022 10:15 am

Scott Morrison did a bang up job of delivering on the conservative dream of making government so small you could drown it in a bathtub.

rickw
rickw
August 16, 2022 10:21 am

We are so screwed.

min
min
August 16, 2022 10:46 am

Hope he wasn’t put on Stilnox for sleeplessness during this period or they could have got him for wandering around Parliament house nude .

H B Bear
H B Bear
August 16, 2022 11:15 am

A Royal Commission into all this shit would be fun. Just how did I get banned from my local cafe and compelled to get vaccinated to go to work?

wal1957
wal1957
August 16, 2022 11:26 am

Monty…

Scott Morrison did a bang up job of delivering on the conservative dream of making government so small you could drown it in a bathtub.

So you’re trying comedy now Monty?

Barry
Barry
August 16, 2022 11:48 am

It was pretty clear from many discussions in this forum (and the oldCat?) that the Constitution does little to protect us against tyranny. Unlike the Bill of Rights in the US Constitution, our framers disavowed that our parliaments could act against the interests of the people, due to the discipline of elections.

All the Constitution does is make sure that the different categories of tyranny are allocated to either the State or Federal Governments.

Even this is flexible, viz. the assignment by the States to the Feds of the power to levy income tax.

All power comes from the barrel of a gun folks.

Cassie of Sydney
August 16, 2022 11:53 am

“Surely the secrecy of Morrison’s actions is the greatest “tell” about his underhanded motives.
If this move was in the national interest, the nation would have been informed.
That pantywaisted LNP apologist Michael Kroger said on Bolt last night that one reason for the doubling up of Ministers was to ensure a quick response to urgent health issues if the Health Minister was sick with Covid.
Good luck trying to sell that pork pie to the electorate. Hence the need for secrecy and pulling the wool over Australians’ eyes.”

Nicely said OSC. When I think of Morrison, these are the words that come to mind…

Duplicitous
Sly
Devious
Underhanded
Two-faced
Shifty
Deceitful
Self-serving
Opportunistic
Perfidious
Backstabbing

I’m sure there are others but you get the drift.

Andrew Laming has already said he received zero support from Morrison when their ABC and other MSM scum smeared him. Morrison was even willing to throw his own, Kelly, Laming, Porter and Tudge to the progressive wolves…it didn’t save him in the end.

As I’ve said here…and I’ll say it again, Morrison is not missed.

Kneel
Kneel
August 16, 2022 12:28 pm

“They needed a mechanism that put the expert health advice at the apex of political decision making, along with a unified national approach from all levels of government.”

NO, you mong, what they needed to do was exactly what they did NOT do.
Instead of saying “We spoke to the experts, whom we trust, and they told us ‘do x’ so we are doing x”, they should have trusted us – the people – make appropriate choices, and said simply “The medical advice is x, we encourage everyone currently in Australia to follow this advice. We cannot force anyone to do x, nor do we want to, but we strongly encourage you to do so, and to seek the advice of your own GP about what is appropriate for you.”

What hubris they have, to believe that they know better than me and my GP what is best for me, and to threaten my livelihood should I disagree for my specific circumstances.

What gutless morons to hold to one field specific to the crisis at hand as “supreme”, instead of hearing from experts in many diverse fields in an attempt to judge what is least damaging to society as a whole – most especially when that is the specific job they have been elected to do!

What fools are they to demand from us the very thing they refuse to give us in return – trust.

jupes
jupes
August 16, 2022 1:50 pm

Thank goodness. I thought you had written a post about Chrissy Pyne.

Petros
Petros
August 16, 2022 2:02 pm

As they say in NZ, he really fuxed things.

Bluey
Bluey
August 16, 2022 5:41 pm

If nothing else, the last couple of years has made it quite clear black and white letter of the law matters not at all, unless the powers that be want it to enforce their dictates. Anything supposed to protect the people is conveniently ignored.

Hubris
Hubris
August 16, 2022 6:17 pm

There are no constitutional rights. Australian rights are in laws, largely accumulating of British law and those arising from treaties and laws that flow from them.
In fact our construction says little other than to reflect the limited consensus of States at Federation.
Morrison has created a precedent that no one expected: that a PM would act like trump and ride roughshod over normally accepted practices.

Colonel Crispin Berka
Colonel Crispin Berka
August 16, 2022 6:57 pm

Is Scomo bad because he gained too many powers, or is he good because he did not use those powers? Consequentialism versus deontology again.

Arky
August 16, 2022 7:41 pm

or is he good because he did not use those powers?

..
He used the powers:

Former resources minister Keith Pitt comments after revelations Scott Morrison took over portfolio to kill off gas project
Former resources minister Keith Pitt has weighed in after it was revealed then-prime minister Scott Morrison intervened in the portfolio to kill off the contentious PEP-11 project.
https://www.skynews.com.au/australia-news/politics/former-resources-minister-keith-pitt-comments-after-revelations-scott-morrison-took-over-portfolio-to-kill-off-gas-project/news-story/83f929b76548e4f01965fbc41e49bb7a

Arky
August 16, 2022 7:48 pm

This toad-like smirking git didn’t lift a finger while Andrew’s goons were causing havoc.
But he did short circuit the normal ministerial processes in order to obtain political gain for his party.
What a prick. We were completely without proper democratic representation while this was going on.
What point writing your local member when the ministerial responsibilities are usurped by one man who was not subject to parliamentary questioning?

WolfmanOz
August 16, 2022 8:56 pm

I loathed Turnbull . . . but Scomo takes it to a new level – a contemptible cretin who had no convictions at all except gaining power.

The Beer whisperer
The Beer whisperer
August 16, 2022 9:18 pm

If they’re incapable of not abusing them then they shouldn’t have access to them in the first place.

Parliament’s have proven themselves for centuries as capable of acting as bad as actual dictators. They need their powers massively diluted.

Damon
Damon
August 16, 2022 9:30 pm

“They need their powers massively diluted.”
With Labor in power? Good luck with that.

Dot
Dot
August 17, 2022 6:44 am

There are no constitutional rights.

More or less, but a little hyperbolic.

Are we ready for a new constitution yet, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” Conservatives?

🙂 🙂 🙂

Dot
Dot
August 17, 2022 6:46 am

Sortition
Confederalism
Subsidiarity
Term limits
Jury nullification
Recall elections

HT
HT
August 17, 2022 8:30 am

Mortified accumulating ministerial powers and keeping that fact a secret is despicable. That the GG “followed orders” without a fundamental understanding of the purpose of his role as opposed to the black letter law speaks volumes as to his character and suitability to remain in that role. Sack both the bastards…

HT
HT
August 17, 2022 8:31 am

Urg!!! Bloody autocorrect. “Morrison”

Eyrie
Eyrie
August 17, 2022 8:54 am

Thinking on our last few Prime Ministers, I reckon Howard, Trumble and Morro make Rudd and Gillard look not so bad.

Dot
Dot
August 17, 2022 10:17 am

That the GG “followed orders” without a fundamental understanding of the purpose of his role

He acted on the advice of his PM.

That’s how it works.

HT
HT
August 17, 2022 10:52 am

August 17, 2022 at 10:17 am
That the GG “followed orders” without a fundamental understanding of the purpose of his role
He acted on the advice of his PM.

That’s how it works

No, it isn’t. A fundamental principle of our system of Governor is the doctrine of separation of powers. We have tripartite system to seperate each those powers; executive government, the HCA and the GG. If one of those organisations simply “follows orders” like a fucking unthinking moron then 1.) it’s redundant and/or 2.) they have failed in their most basic function and purpose. Sack the bastard.

Morsie
Morsie
August 17, 2022 11:15 am

The High Court has been ignoring the Constitution and otherwise making shit up. No surprise that the politicians followed suit.

HT
HT
August 17, 2022 12:07 pm

Morsie says:
August 17, 2022 at 11:15 am
The High Court has been ignoring the Constitution and otherwise making shit up. No surprise that the politicians followed suit

Yeah, those bastards can take a turn against the wall as well. Where the bloody hell were they during the last two or so years as governments (esp the Victorian government) trampled over Australians like they were serfs >:( the HCA argued a case needs a referral to test, ICB. Again, at these “ranks” we aren’t looking for bloody robots, we look for leadership and sense of propriety to do what’s right. Andrews for example – don’t get me started where no Labor Party machinery exists under him and he bypassed parliament for every stinking diktat the bastard imposed.

Dot
Dot
August 17, 2022 12:08 pm

The Governor General is not separate to the executive and we have never had a complete separation of powers in Australia.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

🙂 🙂 🙂

HT
HT
August 17, 2022 12:31 pm

Dot says:
August 17, 2022 at 12:08 pm
The Governor General is not separate to the executive and we have never had a complete separation of powers in Australia.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

You need to revise your understanding of the Australian political system. The GG, by definition is an Office seperate from the Executive. What, you believe the Executive has and would implant the power to sack itself, and that it gives itself Royal Assent? It has the power to swear itself in etc? FFS, his role is to be the Godfather to the country, to apply and ensure wisdom is exercised in governing the country. And that includes saying “no” to something that stinks such as Morrison giving himself dictatorship like powers, IN FUCKING SECRET.

Roger W
Roger W
August 17, 2022 1:15 pm

They needed a mechanism that put the expert health advice at the apex of political decision making, along with a unified national approach from all levels of government.

Well, that worked out well – not.
I would nowadays no more follow expert health advice from our state and federal CMOs than I would take advice from Dracula on setting up a blood bank.

Dot
Dot
August 17, 2022 3:02 pm

What, you believe the Executive has and would implant the power to sack itself, and that it gives itself Royal Assent?

That’s actually the law if you believe in following Ministerial advice.

The Prime Minister can also have legislation within a certain timeframe disallowed.

Name one time a Governor General has not given royal assent.

Yep.

It’s fucked alright. 🙂

Fair Shake
Fair Shake
August 17, 2022 3:47 pm

The whole thing was a choke hold on the taxpayer from beginning to …. Still waiting. A mate of mine had access to large ways of face masks in early 2020 from the US. Overnight State and Federal Governments suddenly changed their minds that we did indeed need masks to save us and there were v few available. My mate approached several state governments and could not get past the receptionist for several weeks. He only gave up when he found out the mask contracts were handed out to Union ‘associates’. Our governments were never serious. There was v little threat to us but there was a great opportunity to help themselves.
They will never allow a Royal Commission until the whole generation of self entitled pirates vacate the stage.

Fair Shake
Fair Shake
August 17, 2022 3:48 pm

Large ways should be large quantities. Tucking autocorrect.

Dot
Dot
August 17, 2022 7:29 pm

We need a Royal Commission.

We need a yard arm.

JohnL
August 17, 2022 8:56 pm

Australia was established as a penal colony and still is a penal colony, just ask Cardinal Pell.

White Robot
White Robot
August 17, 2022 8:56 pm

I had thought for many years that our constitutional monarchy was fit for purpose. Even the strengthening of self defense doctrine was just a matter of political will. The last two years have crushed that assertion. The state governors and the governor-general all showed their complete abdication of the job. David Smith clearly outlined how the g-g is the head of state, and so should have the health of the nation clearly defined in their actions . They are unrepresentative swill.

posting hee is cap.

Eyrie
Eyrie
August 18, 2022 6:38 am

that a PM would act like trump and ride roughshod over normally accepted practices.
WTF? What did Trump do except speak plainly?

Simon Morgan
Simon Morgan
August 20, 2022 10:55 pm

@Cassie

As I’ve said here…and I’ll say it again, Morrison is not missed

-I’m of the opinion that Morrison is the worst PM this country has ever had, even worse than Turnbull, Rudd & Gillard, and I do know how horrendous they were.

The one word I would add to your list of descriptions for him is he is an abject COWARD. The examples are numerous but for one, he immediately acts to strip Cardinal Pell of of his AO, based on that kangaroo court judgment against him.

Anyone with any honour, decency or courage would have spoken out against that absurd verdict.

Daffy
Daffy
August 24, 2022 12:50 pm

Australia was established as a penal colony

Wasn’t it Clive James who quipped: the problem with Australia is not that it is founded on convicts, but that it is founded on jailers.

  1. Good rant from the Rev: Glastonbury baby, left wing hypocrite rant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vqkzRfCK9oM

  2. I gave it up aged 80 after a not very long or difficult trip on an Icelandic pony. They have…

  3. Appalling to see my old Alma Mater brought down to such a low. Mark Scott was a disastrous apoointment.

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