Plagued is a book written by Simon Benson and Geoff Chambers released in August of 2022.
At the time of the book’s publication, Mr. Benson was the Political Editor and Former National Affairs Editor for The Australian and Mr. Chambers was the Chief Political Correspondent for The Australian. The authors described Plagued as “an inside story into the federal government’s management of the pandemic.”
Promotional material for the book describes how the authors were granted:
“exclusive access to the crucial machinations of government at the country’s highest levels, not just within the corridors of power but also behind doors normally sealed”.
Significantly the book details former-Prime Minister, Scott Morrison’s, self-appointments to other ministries.
According to Plagued, Mr. Morrison wanted to ensure that if the Health Minister, Greg Hunt, became ill with COVID-19 and incapacitated, the Prime Minister would be able to utilise the emergency health powers. Mr. Morrison reportedly stated to Mr. Hunt:
“I trust you, mate, but I’m swearing myself in as health minister, too.”
Plagued states that Mr. Morrison’s decision to appoint himself as joint-minister for other department was to “ensure the machinery of government did not crumble” and “safeguarding against any one minister having absolute power”:
“Morrison wasn’t satisfied, feeling that there needed to be more checks and balances before any single minister could wield such powers…One option was to delegate the powers to cabinet but (attorney-general) Christian Porter’s advice was these powers could not be delegated and could only reside with the health minister…Morrison then hatched a radical and until now secret plan with Porter’s approval…He would swear himself in as health minister alongside Hunt…Such a move was without precedent, let alone being done in secret, but the trio saw it as an elegant solution to the problem they were trying to solve – safeguarding against any one minister having absolute power.”