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Secret Ministries and the Constitution: an implied requirement of publication?

Author(s): Fiona Roughley, Megan Caristo

Whilst he was Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP was appointed by the Governor-General to administer five additional departments of State unbeknownst to the other institutions of Australia’s constitutional government and the public. This article considers whether the Constitution contains an implied requirement that any appointment of a person to administer a department of State be made public within a reasonable period , and whether that requirement limits the executive power in s 64 to appoint a person to administer a department of State. Such an implication arguably arises from the text and structure of the Constitution, and in particular, the form of representative and responsible government prescribed by ss 1, 6, 7, 8, 13, 23, 24, 28, 30, 49, 50, 62, 64, 75(v), 83 and 128. If the implication be accepted, and if it gives rise to a limitation on the power to appoint in s 64, absence of publication of an appointment within a reasonable period results in invalidity of the appointment. The implication may also have other consequences for the exercise of other executive (and legislative) powers.

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Centre: CIPL

Research theme: International Law

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