Josh Frydenburg is a member of the Liberal Party and former Treasurer and Deputy Leader from 2018 to 2022. Following the 2022 Australian Federal Election, Mr. Frydenburg joined the investment bank Goldman Sachs as a senior regional adviser for the Asia Pacific.
Reaction to Scott Morrison's Secret Ministry Appointments
In November 2022 The Sydney Morning Herald released an edited extract from BULLDOZED:
Scott Morrison’s fall and Anthony Albanese’s rise by Niki Savva. Ms. Savva reports having spoken to Mr. Frydenberg in August of 2022 regarding former-Prime Minister Scott Morrison's secret appointments to various portfolios, including Treasury, which Mr. Frydenberg was originally unaware of.
Mr. Frydenberg noted the difficulties of governing during a global pandemic but also expressed his disappointment in Mr. Morrison for appointing himself to the Treasury portfolio:
“It’s impossible properly to evaluate the decision-making during the pandemic without understanding the context in which decisions were made...We faced a once-in-a-century pandemic, an evolving crisis, laden with uncertainty as to what each day would bring. This meant we had to take and live with decisions on both the health and economic front that in normal times would never have been contemplated. That being said, I don’t think there was any reason for Scott to take on the additional Treasury portfolio. The fact he did take it, and it was not made transparent to me and others, was wrong and profoundly disappointing...It was extreme overreach.”
Mr. Frydenberg was originally aware that Mr. Morrison had taken on the Health portfolio, but not Finance or any other ministries. Ms. Savva reports Mr. Morrison called Mr. Frydenberg shortly after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese's announcement regarding the secret ministerial appointments. During this conversation, Mr. Frydenberg cannot recall Mr. Morrison apologising. Later in the conversation he proposed to Mr. Morrison that "You wouldn’t do it again if you had your time over!” to which Mr. Morrison replied “Yes I would.” A few days after this conversation, Mr. Morrison called Mr. Frydenberg again, stating that he had reflected on their conversation and would "would probably not take Treasury if he had his time over." As Ms. Savva notes, Mr. Morrison only referred to Treasury and still did not apologise.
Mr. Frydenberg reportedly believed there were two incidents which possibly contributed to Mr. Morrison's decision to appoint himself to Treasury. The first was a news story published in April, just weeks before the 2021 budget, which asserted that Mr. Frydenberg was resisting a levy to fund aged care which Mr. Morrison supported. Mr. Frydenberg was concerned that the story was an attempt to divide himself and Mr. Morrison. In a conversation regarding the publication, Mr. Morrison reportedly stated that this wouldn't happen because "I trust you, Josh."
The second Mr. Frydenberg considered was also shortly before the release of the 2021 budget wherein Mr. Morrison was resisting Mr. Frydenberg's suggestion to provide further funding to childcare. Mr. Frydenberg "twisted his arm" regarding childcare stating “I am telling you as treasurer I want this, you need it, you have ministers who support it." Upon learning that Mr. Morrison's secret appointment to treasury had taken place on May 6th, just five days out from the budget announcement, Mr. Frydenberg "couldn’t help wondering if those two events might have triggered it."