Scott Morrison becomes the first prime minister in the history of Australia who has been censured by the parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature.

The motion was passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country's lower house.
The motion was passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country's lower house. (AP)

Australia's parliament has voted to censure former Liberal prime minister Scott Morrison after an inquiry found his secret appointment to multiple ministries during the Covid-19 pandemic undermined trust in government.

Wednesday's historic motion, brought by the ruling Labor party, was passed by 86 votes to 50 in the country's lower house.

Morrison, who lost power in a general election in May, secretly accumulated five ministerial roles during the pandemic: health, finance, treasury, resources and home affairs.

It marks the first time a former prime minister has been censured by parliament, though the motion is symbolic in nature.

"The fact is, that our democracy is precious," Labor Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during the debate, speaking in favour of censuring Morrison.

"There's no room for complacency."

Morrison has defended his decisions by saying it was lawful, and that the decision was necessary in case ministers became incapacitated during the pandemic.

"For those who wish to add their judgement today on my actions in supporting this censure motion, I simply suggest that they stop and consider the following: have you ever had to deal with a crisis where the outlook was completely unknown?," Morrison said in parliament before the vote on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Australia PM accuses Morrison of 'trashing' democracy

New anti-corruption law

"In such circumstances, were you able to get all the decisions perfectly right?"

Morrison said he had only used the powers on one occasion, to block BPH Energy's PEP-11 gas exploration project.

He accepted the recommendations of an inquiry into the appointment, including legislation requiring public notice of ministerial appointments.

Meanwhile, rising corruption and plummeting trust spurred Australia to pass anti-corruption law on Wednesday that will establish a national integrity watchdog with broad powers to investigate politicians.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese introduced the bill to parliament on Wednesday, saying it was crucial to restoring public trust. 

"Today has been a long time coming, it's a win for honesty, accountability and integrity," he said. 

Clancy Moore from Transparency International said it was the "biggest reform to public integrity for over 40 years in Australia". 

"People think Australia is a nice holiday destination, but the last twelve years has seen Australia slip down Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index by 12 points," he said.

READ MORE: Australia's Albanese mulls probe into secret ministries saga

Source: TRTWorld and agencies