“Insufficient consideration was given to these decisions at the time, including non disclosure,” Morrison said.
But, he said, he would have told people what he had done had he been asked.
“Had I been asked about these matters at the time at the numerous press conferences I held, I would have responded truthfully about the arrangements I had put in place,” Morrison said.
Morrison said he did not apologise because he was acting “in order to save lives and to save livelihoods”.
“I gave it everything I had. I did it to the best of my ability,” he concluded.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese rejected Morrison’s explanation saying management of the pandemic was “not a one-man show”.
“I came here not certain as to whether I would speak. But I have to respond to the prime minister’s comments, who has confirmed again, that he just doesn’t get it,” Albanese said.
“The former prime minister said this morning that he had conversations ‘privately with my colleagues’. It’s not about [former treasurer] Josh Frydenberg. It’s about the people of Australia. That’s who we’re accountable to.
“I thought this morning that we would see some contrition – some. A semblance of contrition. We got none of that. We got hubris and we got arrogance and we got denial.”
Leader of the house Tony Burke moved the motion against Morrison for failing to disclose his five secret ministries to parliament, his cabinet colleagues, and the Australian people.
Burke said Morrison’s actions “undermined responsible government and eroded public trust in Australia’s democracy”.
“Today is not how any office wanted to make history,” Burke said.
“But censure, while rare, has its place.”
The motion also contained the findings of the inquiry by former High Court judge Virginia Bell, who said the former prime minister “fundamentally undermined” the principles of responsible government because he was not responsible to the parliament, and that his actions were “corrosive of trust in government”.
The text of the censure motion also noted the constitution provides for responsible government in which the executive is accountable to the parliament and through that, to the voters.
Liberal backbencher Bridget Archer said she was “deeply disappointed” by Morrison’s lack of apology.
“I do not accept any of the explanations put forward by the former prime minister for the actions, and I’m deeply disappointed for the lack of apology or more importantly, the lack of understanding of the impact of the decisions,” Archer told parliament.
“We did fare so much better than many other developed countries due to measures implemented by the government in the midst of the pandemic. And the member for Cook is to be commended for much of his pandemic leadership in Australia.
“But, a move to ensure direct power was quietly held over a number of portfolios, unbeknownst to our own party, our own ministers and to the Australian public was entirely unnecessary.”
Cut through the noise of federal politics with news, views and expert analysis from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers can sign up to our weekly Inside Politics newsletter here.
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