Scott Morrison has appointed himself director of a new private company, it has emerged, amid growing speculation about his future in parliament and calls for him to resign.
The former prime minister registered documents with the regulator, Asic, on 1 August, appointing himself director and sole shareholder of 10 shares in the company called Triginta Pty Ltd.
It is unclear what the purpose of the new private company is, which was first reported in the Australian, but questions have been put to Morrison’s electorate office.
The name of the company means “30” in Latin, in possible reference to Morrison being Australia’s 30th prime minister.
He has 28 days to update his register of interest.
The new company comes amid calls for Morrison to step down from parliament amid furore over his decision to secretly take on five additional portfolios throughout 2020 and 2021 without informing the public or most of his cabinet colleagues.
Morrison has apologised to his colleagues for his decision, saying it was meant in “good faith” as part of his management of the pandemic, while conceding he has caused concern.
He has also privately indicated to colleagues that he intends to stay in parliament as the member for Cook, however many Liberals expect Morrison will leave before the next election.
His former cabinet colleague Karen Andrews has said she wants him to resign after “betraying” colleagues and the public, while the opposition leader, Peter Dutton, is standing by the former leader.
Tasmanian independent senator Jacqui Lambie also called for Morrison to leave parliament, saying his actions had been “disgraceful”.
Former prime minister John Howard told ABC radio on Tuesday that Morrison’s retirement would be a matter for the former prime minister, but said a byelection in the Sutherland Shire based seat would be “unhelpful”.
“These calls by some people for Scott Morrison to resign from parliament are ludicrous, there is absolutely no need for him to do that,” Howard told the ABC.
“He will serve out his time or such part of his time as he chooses … but can I say as a member of the Liberal party who lives in Sydney I don’t see the Liberal party at the moment would want a byelection, it would be very unhelpful.
“Morrison’s majority at the last election was very large, he’s an effective local member. I don’t know how long he intends to stay in parliament. He obviously doesn’t intend to stay in parliament indefinitely, but that’s a matter for him.”
The seat of Cook is held by the Liberal party on a 12.4% margin, but Morrison suffered an 8.2% swing against him on primary votes at the 21 May election.
Howard said he understood the anger expressed by Liberal MPs that Morrison had kept the extra ministries secret, calling the decision “unwise”, but said he did not see the issue as “some kind of constitutional crisis”.