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Scott Morrison

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Scott Morrison

Scott Morrison 2014.jpg
Official portrait, 2014
30th Prime Minister of Australia
Assumed office
24 August 2018
MonarchElizabeth II
DeputyMichael McCormack
Barnaby Joyce
Governor-GeneralSir Peter Cosgrove
David Hurley
Preceded byMalcolm Turnbull
Leader of the Liberal Party
Assumed office
24 August 2018
DeputyJosh Frydenberg
Preceded byMalcolm Turnbull
Minister for the Public Service
Assumed office
26 May 2019
Prime MinisterHimself
Preceded byMathias Cormann
Treasurer of Australia
In office
21 September 2015 – 24 August 2018
Prime MinisterMalcolm Turnbull
Preceded byJoe Hockey
Succeeded byJosh Frydenberg
Minister for Social Services
In office
23 December 2014 – 21 September 2015
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Malcolm Turnbull
Preceded byKevin Andrews
Succeeded byChristian Porter
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
In office
18 September 2013 – 23 December 2014
Prime MinisterTony Abbott
Preceded byTony Burke
Succeeded byPeter Dutton
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Cook
Assumed office
24 November 2007
Preceded byBruce Baird
Majority19.02% (35,765)
Personal details
Born
Scott John Morrison

(1968-05-13) 13 May 1968 (age 53)
Waverley, New South Wales, Australia
Political partyLiberal
Other political
affiliations
Coalition
Spouse(s)
(m. 1990)
Children2
ResidenceKirribilli House (primary)[1]
The Lodge (Canberra)
EducationUniversity of New South Wales (BSc Hons)[2]
Signature
Websitescottmorrison.com.au
Nickname(s)ScoMo[3]

Scott John Morrison (/ˈmɒrɪsən/;[4] born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician who is the 30th and current Prime Minister of Australia. He took office in August 2018 upon his election as leader of the Liberal Party.

Morrison was born in Sydney and studied economic geography at the University of New South Wales. He worked as director of the New Zealand Office of Tourism and Sport from 1998 to 2000 and was managing director of Tourism Australia from 2004 to 2006. Morrison also served as state director of the New South Wales Liberal Party from 2000 to 2004. He was first elected to the House of Representatives at the 2007 election for the Division of Cook in New South Wales, and was quickly appointed to the shadow cabinet.

After the Coalition's victory at the 2013 election, Morrison was appointed Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in the Abbott Government, where he was responsible for implementing Operation Sovereign Borders.[5] In a reshuffle the following year, he became Minister for Social Services.[6] He was later promoted to the role of Treasurer in September 2015, after Malcolm Turnbull replaced Abbott as Prime Minister.[7]

In August 2018, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton unsuccessfully challenged Turnbull for the leadership of the Liberal Party. Leadership tension continued, and the party voted to hold a second leadership ballot on 24 August, with Turnbull choosing not to stand. In that ballot, Morrison was seen as a compromise candidate and defeated both Dutton and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to become Leader of the Liberal Party. He was sworn in as Prime Minister by the Governor-General later that day.[8]

Morrison went on to lead the Coalition to a surprise victory in the 2019 election.[9] He was criticised for his government's response to the 2019–20 bushfires and the 2021 Parliament rape allegations.[10][11] During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Morrison government has been praised for making Australia one of the few Western countries to successfully suppress the virus.[12] However, it has also been criticized for not creating a national quarantine system,[13] failure to help Australians stranded overseas,[14] and a slow vaccination rollout that fell far short of its targets.[15][16] Morrison and his government have also been accused of showing favouritism to certain states during the pandemic.[17][18][19][20]

Early life and education

Morrison was born in Waverley, Sydney, the younger of two sons born to Marion (née Smith) and John Douglas Morrison (1934–2020).[21] His father was a policeman who served on the Waverley Municipal Council, including for a single term as mayor.[22] Morrison's maternal grandfather was born in New Zealand.[23] His paternal grandmother was the niece of noted Australian poet Dame Mary Gilmore. In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of her death, he delivered a tribute to her in federal parliament.[24] Morrison is descended from William Roberts, a convict who was convicted of stealing yarn and transported to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788.[25]

Morrison grew up in the suburb of Bronte. He had a brief career as a child actor, appearing in several television commercials and small roles in local shows.[26] Some reports have suggested that he was the iconic 1970s Vicks "Love Rub" kid, but footage to confirm or refute this has not been found; he has stated he was in a different Vicks commercial.[27] He attended Sydney Boys High School before going on to complete a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) honours degree in applied economic geography at the University of New South Wales.[28][29][30] He contemplated studying theology at Regent College in Vancouver, Canada, but he instead chose to enter the workforce after completing his undergraduate education, in part due to the disapproval of his father.[31]

Early career

After graduating from university, Morrison worked as national policy and research manager for the Property Council of Australia from 1989 to 1995. He then moved into tourism, serving as deputy chief executive of the Australian Tourism Task Force and then general manager of the Tourism Council of Australia; the latter was managed by Bruce Baird, whom he would eventually succeed in federal parliament.[26]

In 1998, Morrison moved to New Zealand to become director of the newly created Office of Tourism and Sport. He formed a close relationship with New Zealand's tourism minister, Murray McCully, and was involved with the creation of the long-running "100% Pure New Zealand" campaign.[26][32] He left this position in 2000, a year before the contract schedule.[33]

Morrison returned to Australia in 2000, to become state director of the Liberal Party of Australia (New South Wales Division). He oversaw the party's campaigns in the 2001 federal election and in the 2003 New South Wales state election.[22]

Tourism Australia

In 2004, Morrison left the NSW Liberal Party post to become the inaugural managing director of Tourism Australia, which had been established by the Howard Government. His appointment was controversial due to its openly political nature.[22] He signed an initial three-year contract.[34] Morrison approved and defended the contentious "So where the bloody hell are you?" advertising campaign featuring Lara Bingle. His contract was terminated in July 2006, which at the time was attributed to conflict with tourism minister Fran Bailey over the government's plans to further integrate the agency into the Australian Public Service.[35] He had been awarded a pay rise by the Remuneration Tribunal three weeks before his sacking. A 2019 investigation by The Saturday Paper suggested Morrison was sacked due to concerns that Tourism Australia was not following government procurement guidelines for three contracts relating to the "So where the bloody hell are you?" campaign, with a total value of $184 million. A 2008 report from the Auditor-General found that "information had been kept from the board, procurement guidelines breached and private companies engaged before paperwork was signed and without appropriate value-for-money assessments". It was suggested that M&C Saatchi, which had previously worked with Morrison on the "100% Pure" campaign in New Zealand, received favourable treatment in the tendering process.[34]

This episode and, more generally, his career in marketing led to his satirical sobriquet, "Scotty from Marketing,"[36] originating with the satirical news website The Betoota Advocate in August 2018. It was taken up on Twitter in early 2019, and spiked at the height of the bushfire crisis on 29 December 2019.[37] In January 2020 Morrison referred to the name as a "snarky comment" used by the Labor Party to discredit him.[38][36]

Political career

Opposition (2007–2013)

Morrison sought Liberal preselection for the Division of Cook, an electorate in the southern suburbs of Sydney which includes Cronulla, Caringbah, and Miranda, for the 2007 election, following the retirement of Bruce Baird, who had served as the member since 1998. He lost the ballot to Michael Towke, a telecommunications engineer and the candidate of the Liberals' right faction, by 82 votes to 8.[39]

However, allegations surfaced that Towke had engaged in branch stacking and had embellished his resume.[40] The state executive of the Liberal Party disendorsed Towke and held a new pre-selection ballot, which Morrison won. The allegations subsequently proved to be false, and The Daily Telegraph was forced to pay an undisclosed amount to settle a defamation suit filed by Towke.[39] At the general election, Morrison suffered a two-party swing of over six percent against Labor candidate Mark Buttigieg, but was able to retain the seat on the strength of winning 52 percent of the primary vote.[41]

Morrison in 2009
Morrison in 2009

In September 2008, Morrison was appointed to Malcolm Turnbull's coalition front bench as shadow minister for housing and local government.[42] In December 2009, he became shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, coming into the shadow cabinet for the first time during Tony Abbott's first cabinet reshuffle shortly after winning the leadership.[43]

In December 2010, forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster.[44] In February 2011, Morrison publicly questioned the decision of the Gillard Labor government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney, arguing that the same privilege was not extended to Australian citizens. After fellow Liberal and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey disagreed with Morrison's statements, Morrison said that the timing of his comments was insensitive, but did not back away from the comments themselves.[45][46] In the same month, it was revealed that Morrison had "urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate's growing concerns" about Muslims and appeal to the public perception of their "inability to integrate" to gain votes.[47]

In February 2013, Morrison said that the police should be notified of where asylum seekers are living in the community if any antisocial behaviour has occurred, and that there should be strict guidelines for the behaviour of those currently on bridging visas while they await the determination of their claims.[48] The new code of conduct was released by the immigration minister for more than 20,000 irregular maritime arrivals living in the community on bridging visas.[49][better source needed]

Abbott Government (2013–2015)

Following the Coalition's victory at the 2013 federal election, Morrison was appointed Minister for Immigration and Border Protection in the Abbott Government and included in cabinet.[2]

Based on a series of off-the-record interviews, in June 2014 Morrison was identified by Fairfax Media as the leader of an informal grouping of "economically moderate, or wet" government MPs, also including Greg Hunt, Stuart Robert, and Josh Frydenberg. It was linked with another moderate grouping led by Christopher Pyne. It was further reported that Morrison had unsuccessfully argued in cabinet for a $25 million bailout of SPC Ardmona.[50]

Immigration

On 18 September 2013, Morrison launched Operation Sovereign Borders, the new government's strategy aimed at stopping unauthorised boats from entering Australian waters.[51] Cabinet documents from this time revealed in 2018 that Morrison asked for mitigation strategies to avoid granting permanent visas to 700 refugees.[52] His office reported that there were 300 boats and 20,587 arrivals in 2013 to only 1 boat and 157 arrivals for all of 2014.[53] The UNHCR expressed concerns that the practice may violate the Refugee Convention.[54] In September 2014, it was reported that zero asylum seekers had died at sea since December 2013, compared with more than 1,100 deaths between 2008 and 2013.[55] The annual refugee intake, which had been increased to 20,000 for 2012–13 by the previous government, was reduced to 13,750, the level it had been in 2011–12. Morrison stated that "Not one of those places will go to anyone who comes on a boat to Australia [...] they will go to people who have come the right way."[56][57]

Morrison defended his use of the terms "illegal arrivals" and "illegal boats," saying that "I've always referred to illegal entry ... I've never claimed that it's illegal to claim asylum."[58][59]

During his time as Immigration Minister, Morrison's dealings with the media and accountability to the public were widely criticised by journalists, Labor and Greens senators, and others for refusing to provide details about the matters within his portfolio. Morrison asserted that to reveal details of operations would be to play into the hands of people smugglers who used this information to plan illegal smuggling operations.[60] On many occasions Morrison refused to answer questions about the status of asylum seekers or boats coming to and from Australia, often on the basis that he would not disclose "on water" or "operational" matters.[61][62][63][64][65]

In November 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission delivered a report to the Government which found that Morrison failed in his responsibility to act in the best interests of children in detention during his time as Minister. The overarching finding of the inquiry was that the prolonged, mandatory detention of asylum seeker children caused them significant mental and physical illness and developmental delays, in breach of Australia's international obligations.[66] The report was criticised by Tony Abbott as being politically motivated, with regard to the timing of the report's release after the Abbott Government had taken office. The Government released the report publicly in February 2015.[67]

In early December 2014, Morrison had the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 passed through the Australian Parliament. The bill gave Morrison more power than any previous minister in dealing with people seeking asylum in Australia, including the power to return asylum seekers to their place of origin, detain asylum seekers without charge, and refuse asylum seekers who arrive by boat access to the Refugee Review Tribunal.[68][69] The bill reintroduced temporary protection visas to deal specifically with the backlog of 30,000 people who had arrived under the previous Labor Government but who had yet to be processed. The bill allowed those on bridging visas to apply for work, and increased the refugee intake to 18,750.[70]

Social services

In a cabinet reshuffle in late December 2014, Morrison was appointed the Minister for Social Services and ceased to be Minister for Immigration and Border Protection.[71] The appointment was criticised by Australian Greens leader Christine Milne who claimed Morrison had a lack of compassion.[71] With a softened change in image,[72] Morrison was commended by welfare and community groups for his accommodating approach and eagerness for the portfolio.[73] Morrison encouraged working mothers and endorsed fixes to the childcare system by making indexation changes to the Family Tax Benefits payment.[74][75] In April 2015, he announced the introduction of the "No Jab, No Pay" policy, which withholds family and childcare benefits from parents who do not vaccinate their children.[76] His time as minister was criticised by his opposition counterpart Jenny Macklin, who said that "Scott Morrison was appointed to clean up Kevin Andrews' mess but left behind more chaos, confusion and cuts."[77]

In March 2015, three hundred alumni of Sydney Boys High School signed a letter protesting Morrison's attendance at an alumni fund-raising event. The protest letter expressed the opinion that the school should not celebrate a person who has "so flagrantly disregarded human rights."[78]

During May 2015, Morrison promoted his plan for a $3.5 billion overhaul of the childcare subsidies system. His substantial advertising efforts led to claims that he was overshadowing the role of Treasurer Joe Hockey. Morrison insisted that he did not desire to take over the position of Treasurer despite his strong performances.[79]

Turnbull Government (2015–2018)

Morrison was appointed as Treasurer in the Turnbull Government in September 2015, replacing Joe Hockey.[80][81] In his first press conference as Treasurer, he indicated a reduction in government expenditure and stated that the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) and White Paper on tax reform would arrive on time.[82]

In May 2016, Morrison handed down the 2016 Australian federal budget. It included the introduction of a 40 percent diverted profits tax (popularly known as the "Google tax"), which is an anti-avoidance measure designed to prevent base erosion and profit shifting. It was passed into law as the Diverted Profits Tax Act 2017 and took effect on 1 July 2017.[83] The new tax received criticism from some quarters, with the Corporate Tax Association stating that it would have "unpredictable outcomes" and negatively affect Australian business.[84][85]

In February 2017, Morrison addressed the House of Representatives while holding a lump of coal, stating "This is coal. Don't be afraid. Don't be scared. It won't hurt you," and accusing those concerned about the environmental impact of the coal industry of having "an ideological, pathological fear of coal."[86] He handed down the 2017 Australian federal budget in May 2017.[87]

Morrison was an opponent of legalising same-sex marriage in Australia.[88] After the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey, he proposed an amendment to the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 allowing parents to remove children from classes if "non-traditional" marriage is discussed.[89] All amendments failed,[90] and Morrison abstained from voting on the final bill.[91] The electorate of Cook had a participation rate of 82.22%, and 55.04% of those had responded "Yes."[92] By November 2017, Morrison considered the topic of same-sex marriage to be a "done deal" and a "finished debate".[93]

In December 2017, the government introduced the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry (popularly known as the Banking Royal Commission). Morrison originally opposed the creation of a royal commission, believing that a Senate inquiry would be sufficient. He voted against a royal commission 23 times between April 2016 and June 2017, and in September 2016 described it as "nothing more than crass populism seeking to undermine confidence in the banking and financial system, which is key to jobs and growth in this country."[94] In announcing that the royal commission would take place, Morrison described it as a "regrettable but necessary action."[95] In response to the commission's findings, in April 2018 he announced the introduction of new criminal and civil penalties for financial misconduct, including potential prison sentences of 10 years for individuals and fines of up to $210 million for companies.[96]

Morrison handed down the 2018 Australian federal budget on 8 May.[97] He subsequently rejected calls to increase the rate of the Newstart Allowance, saying "my priority is to give tax relief to people who are working and paying taxes."[98]

Prime Minister of Australia (2018–present)

Scott Morrison
Premiership of Scott Morrison
24 August 2018 – present
Scott Morrison
CabinetFirst Morrison Ministry
Second Morrison Ministry
PartyLiberal Party
Election2019
Appointed bySir Peter Cosgrove
SeatThe Lodge (Canberra)
Kirribilli House (Sydney)


Official website

Leadership election

Morrison with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on his first overseas visit as prime minister
Morrison with Indonesian President Joko Widodo on his first overseas visit as prime minister
Morrison with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires
Morrison with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires
Morrison with East Timor's president Francisco Guterres
Morrison with East Timor's president Francisco Guterres

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called a leadership spill on 21 August 2018 in order to gauge the confidence of the Liberal Party in his leadership.[99] He defeated challenger Peter Dutton by 48 votes to 35.[100] Over the following days, there was repeated speculation about a second spill being called, without Turnbull's approval. Turnbull announced two days later that he would resign the leadership if a spill motion were passed.[101] Dutton, Morrison and Julie Bishop announced they would stand for the leadership if that were the case.[102]

A spill motion was passed on 24 August by 45 votes to 40, and Turnbull did not run as a candidate in the resulting leadership vote. On the first ballot, Dutton received 38 votes, Morrison 36 votes, and Bishop 11 votes. On the second ballot, Morrison received 45 votes and Dutton 40 votes. He thus became leader of the Liberal Party and prime minister-designate. Josh Frydenberg was elected as the party's deputy leader, in place of Bishop.[103][104] Morrison was widely seen as a compromise candidate, who was agreeable to both the moderate supporters of Turnbull and Bishop and conservatives concerned about Dutton's electability.[105] He was sworn in as prime minister on the evening of 24 August.[106][107]

Soon after Morrison was sworn in, Nationals backbencher Kevin Hogan moved to the crossbench in protest of the wave of Liberal spills.[108] Although Hogan continued to support the Coalition on confidence and supply and remained in the National party room, his departure to the crossbench and Turnbull's retirement from politics reduced the Coalition to a minority government of 74 seats.[109][110] The Morrison Government remained in minority after Turnbull's seat of Wentworth was lost to independent Kerryn Phelps at a by-election.[111][112]

First term

Morrison made his first overseas trip as prime minister less than a week after acceding to the office. He visited the Indonesian capital of Jakarta for the Australia–Indonesia Business Forum and met with President Joko Widodo, announcing the Indonesia–Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement that had been negotiated under the preceding Turnbull Government.[113]

In October 2018, Morrison announced Australia was reviewing whether to move Australia's embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.[114] In December 2018, Morrison announced Australia has recognised West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but will not immediately move its embassy from Tel Aviv.[115]

In November 2018, Morrison privately raised the issue of Xinjiang re-education camps and human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim minority in a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Singapore.[116][117]

In March 2019, Morrison condemned the Christchurch mosque shootings as an "extremist, right-wing violent terrorist attack." He also stated that Australians and New Zealanders were family and that the Australian authorities would be cooperating with New Zealand authorities to assist with the investigation.[118] Morrison condemned "reckless" and "highly offensive" comments made by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[119] Erdoğan repeatedly showed video taken by the Christchurch mosque shooter to his supporters at campaign rallies for upcoming local elections and said Australians and New Zealanders who came to Turkey with anti-Muslim sentiments "would be sent back in coffins like their grandfathers were" during the Gallipoli Campaign of World War I.[120]

Second term

Morrison at 45th G7 summit in Biarritz, France
Morrison at 45th G7 summit in Biarritz, France

Domestic affairs

Morrison led the Coalition into the 2019 election. At time of the writs being issued, the Coalition had been behind the Labor Party in most opinion polls for previous term of parliament, leading to widespread expectations that the Coalition would lose. However, in a significant upset, the Coalition retained its majority.[121] This was considered to have been caused by the unpopularity of opposition leader Bill Shorten and Labor's failure to adapt to the re-framing of the election as a choice between Morrison and Shorten.[122] Claiming victory on election night, Morrison stated that he had "always believed in miracles."[123] Ultimately, the Coalition won 77 seats, a majority of two.

In December 2019, Morrison faced criticism for taking an unannounced overseas holiday with his family to Hawaii, United States during the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season.[124][125][126] Morrison's office initially declined to comment on the length of his trip and his whereabouts, citing security concerns, and made false claims that Morrison was not in Hawaii.[124][127] After increasing criticism from opposition politicians and on social media regarding the holiday, Morrison released a statement on 20 December that stated he "deeply regret[ted] any offence caused" and that he would cut his holiday short to return to Australia on 21 December.[124][128][129]

The Morrison Government was widely criticised for its handling of the 2021 Australian Parliament rape scandals, with an Essential poll finding that 65% of respondents (including 76% of Labor supporters, 51% of Coalition supporters and 88% of Greens supporters) saying the Government was more interested in protecting itself than women.[130] As well as the Labor and Greens parties, the government faced criticism from within its own party. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who had been made aware of the allegations against Christian Porter in 2019, criticised him for taking too long to come forward.[131] Former Prime Minister John Howard defended Morrison's decision not to open an independent inquiry into Porter's conduct.[132] Australian of the Year and sexual assault survivor advocate Grace Tame also criticised Morrison in a speech to the National Press Club, saying she did not believe he was creating an environment where victims were believed. She also said "It shouldn't take having children to have a conscience" in response to Morrison's statement that he'd been prompted to reflect on the issue and decide to listen to Tame after a discussion with his wife Jenny Morrison where she said to him "you have to think about this as a father. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?"[133]

Scott Morrison has refused to attend the IOC summit on the eve of the Tokyo Olympics in support of Brisbane's bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics.[134]

Foreign affairs

At the 2019 Lowy Lecture, Scott Morrison argued that the "distinctiveness of independent nations is preserved within a framework of mutual respect".
At the 2019 Lowy Lecture, Scott Morrison argued that the "distinctiveness of independent nations is preserved within a framework of mutual respect".
2019 Hong Kong protests

In August 2019, Morrison called on the Chief Executive of Hong Kong to listen to protester demands, denying that the 2019–20 Hong Kong protests were showing signs of terrorism.[135]

2019 Turkish offensive

In October 2019, Morrison criticised the 2019 Turkish offensive into north-eastern Syria. Morrison stated that he was concerned for the safety of the Kurds living in the region and also feared that the offensive could result in a resurgence of ISIS.[136]

Sino–Australian relations

On 30 November 2020, a Chinese diplomat, Zhao Lijian, posted a digitally manipulated image of an Australian soldier who appears to hold a bloodied knife against the throat of an Afghan child, on his Twitter page.[137][138] The image is believed to be a reference to the Brereton Report, which had been released earlier by the Australian government that month, and which details war crimes committed by the Australian Defence Force during the War in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.[139] Later that day, Morrison called a press conference, calling the image "offensive" and "truly repugnant",[140] and demanding a formal apology from the Chinese government. China rejected the demands for an apology on the following day,[141] with the artist of the image creating another artwork To Morrison in response to Morrison's demand.[142] The incident had the effect of unifying Australian politicians in condemning China across party lines while also drawing attention to the Brereton Report.[143] The incident was further seen as a sign of deteriorating relations between Australia and China.[144]

Relations with New Zealand

As Prime Minister, Morrison has defended Australia's policy of deporting non-citizens including New Zealanders who had violated its character test or committed crimes. This policy was criticised by his New Zealand counterpart Jacinda Ardern, who described it as "corrosive" to Australia–New Zealand relations in February 2020.[145][146]

In mid-February 2021, Morrison defended the Australian policy of revoking Australian citizenship for dual nationals engaged in terrorism. The previous year, the Australian Government had revoked the citizenship of dual Australian-New Zealand citizen Suhayra Aden, who had become an ISIS bride. New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern had criticised the decision, accusing Australia of abandoning its citizens.[147][148] Following a phone conversation, the two leaders agreed to work together in the "spirit of the Australian-New Zealand relationship" to address what Ardern described as "quite a complex legal situation."[149]

In late May 2021, Morrison made his first state visit to New Zealand since the COVID-19 lockdown, meeting New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern in Queenstown. The two heads of governments issued a joint statement affirming bilateral cooperation on the issues of COVID-19, bilateral relations, and security issues in the Indo-Pacific. Morrison and Ardern also raised concerns about the South China Sea dispute and human rights in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.[150][151][152] In response to the joint statement, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin criticised the Australian and New Zealand governments for interfering in Chinese domestic affairs.[153][152] During the visit, Morrison defended Australia's decision to revoke ISIS bride Suhayra Aden's citizenship but indicated that the Australian Government would consider allowing her children to settle in Australia.[154][155]

COVID-19 pandemic

Morrison at a National Cabinet meeting
Morrison at a National Cabinet meeting

The COVID-19 pandemic in Australia prompted the establishment on 13 March 2020 of a National Cabinet as a body composed of the Prime Minister and the premiers and chief ministers of the states and territories to coordinate the national response to the pandemic.[156] On 29 May 2020, the Prime Minister announced that the National Cabinet would replace the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and meetings after the pandemic would be held monthly, instead of the biannual meetings of COAG.[157]

"The world over - we have all faced the health and economic crises generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 2020 is a year none of us want to repeat. In Australia, we have used our strong balance sheet - built up over many years of discipline, to support and provide our health system with the additional resources, record levels, it has needed - and to provide major, unprecedented economic supports for households and businesses - providing much needed strength and resilience to the economy to both cushion the blow and to recover...... As the world's only nation continent, we always have to be outward looking. You don't get rich by selling stuff to yourself. Singaporeans certainly understand that."

Morrison speaking about the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Australia at the Singapore FinTech Festival, December 2020[158]

On 5 May, Morrison, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Australian state and territorial leaders agreed to work together to develop a Trans-Tasman travel zone that would allow residents from both countries to travel freely between them without restrictions.[159][160] Morrison supported an international inquiry into the origins of the global COVID-19 pandemic and opined that the coronavirus most likely originated in a wildlife wet market in Wuhan.[161]

In August 2020, Morrison announced that Australians would be "among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca".[162] In November 2020, he said the government's COVID-19 strategy would put "Australia at the front of the queue for a safe and effective vaccine".[163] The original goal for vaccine doses has been revised down several times since March 2021, and as of 30 June 2021 the number of doses given (7.6 million) was 4.7 million less than the goal for the end of June.[164]

As of 22 July 2021, Australia ranked last in the OECD for percentage of population being fully vaccinated (at 11.4%).[164][165] The slow pace of the vaccine rollout has prompted the traditionally conservative The Australian newspaper to editorialise that "the federal government is losing credibility with its management of the vaccine rollout and its repeated claims that everything is on track".[166] Political scientists Tim Soutphommasane and Marc Stears criticised the government's management of the vaccine rollout in June 2021, saying it will likely be "taught as a case study of public policy failure".[167]

Accusations of anti-Queensland sentiment

The Morrison government has been accused of holding anti-Queensland views, consistently singling out and attacking Queensland over state border policy,[168] despite other Australian states with similar government policy either receiving praise or little criticism.[169][170]

The Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, has claimed to have been bullied by Morrison and other federal ministers, specifically due to an incident involving a woman who was unable to attend her father's funeral because of coronavirus restrictions.[171] Palaszczuk stated, "I will not be bullied nor will I be intimidated by the Prime Minister of this country who contacted me this morning and who I made [it] very clear to, the fact that it is not my decision. It is the Chief Health Officer's decision to make." The Chief Health Officer of Queensland, Jeannette Young, granted the woman an exemption to attend a private viewing but not the funeral. The eldest daughter of the deceased man criticised Morrison for publicising the funeral details.[172] During a parliamentary session, Palaszczuk broke down in tears, and declared the "bullying" and "intimidation" she had faced by Morrison and his government as "the worst I've ever seen in my lifetime."[173] Morrison responded to claims that he had bullied the Queensland Premier stating, "I don't care",[174] and that the federal government would "work better with Queensland if Deb Frecklington wins [the] election."[175] Senior minister in the Morrison government, Peter Dutton, called Palaszczuk "pig-headed".[176]

Following Palaszczuk's re-election in the 2020 state election, Queensland federal minister for Griffith Terri Butler stated that Morrison had "effectively came to Queensland and told Queenslanders how to suck eggs. We don't like it when people come up here and tell us how to live our lives."[177]

As early as October 2020, Toowoomba businessmen John Wagner, who developed the Toowoomba Wellcamp Airport, made plans to develop a 1000-room quarantine hub next to the airport, and would have been constructed between 4–5 weeks and operational by January 2021. The Queensland government promoted the proposal for its location in the event of an outbreak, being away from the large populations in the capital yet within an hour or so of South East Queensland.[178] In May 2021, Palaszczuk revealed she had discussions with Morrison about a regional quarantine hub, adding that, "I don't know what he's got against Queensland but he seems to be supporting Victoria".[17] In a further response to the Toowoomba hub, Morrison suggested Toowoomba was too far away from the Queensland capital and lacked sufficient resources. The comments angered business leaders, the mayor of Toowoomba Paul Antonio and the chief executive Todd Ruhl of the Chamber of commerce.[179] Morrison did not decide until June when he refused to support the proposal on the basis of not meeting "key requirements", citing it needed to be "within an hour's vehicle transport to a tertiary hospital"; he also later added that it "must be Commonwealth-owned".[180] In the same month, Scott Morrison approved of the Victorian quarantine proposal. Queensland deputy premier Steven Miles labelled it as "inferior", stating that the Toowoomba quarantine facility would have been "bigger", "cheaper", and would also "be delivered faster". He also questioned why "the federal government hate Queensland so much that they will support an inferior facility in Victoria but not a superior facility here in Queensland."[181]

In 2021, South East Queensland has so far had three lock downs from January 8–11, March 29-April 1, and June 29-July 2.[182] Scott Morrison announced new COVID disaster payments in response to the Melbourne and Sydney outbreaks, but not for the Brisbane outbreaks in spite of calls for disaster payments.[183][184][185] Although the Queensland state government has also failed to provide support packages for those affected in the lock downs.[186]

Queensland has had critical shortages of COVID-19 vaccines, with cities such as the Sunshine Coast (which has a high elderly population) set to run out.[187][188] Queensland was denied the requested amount of vaccine, while New South Wales was awarded more despite both states experiencing COVID outbreaks.[189][190]

Personal life

Scott and Jenny Morrison in March 2019
Scott and Jenny Morrison in March 2019

Morrison is a fan of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks rugby league team and, in 2016, was named the club's number-one ticket holder.[26] Morrison has declared himself a proud supporter of the Australian constitutional monarchy.[191][192]

Honours

Foreign honours

Marriage and children

Morrison began dating Jenny Warren when they were both 16. They married on 14 January 1990, when Morrison was 21, and Warren, 22, and have two daughters together. After multiple unsuccessful IVF treatments over a period of 14 years, their daughters were conceived naturally.[194] His daughters attend an independent Baptist school. Morrison has stated that one of the reasons for this choice was so that he could avoid "the values of others being imposed on my children."[195]

Religious beliefs

Morrison was raised in the Presbyterian Church of Australia,[196] which partly merged into the Uniting Church when he was a child. He later became a Pentecostal, and now attends the Horizon Church,[197] which is affiliated with the Australian Christian Churches, the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God. He has said "the Bible is not a policy handbook, and I get very worried when people try to treat it like one."[22] In late 2017, Morrison stated that he would become a stronger advocate for protections for religious freedom.[198]

Morrison is Australia's first Pentecostal prime minister.[199] He thinks misuse of social media is the work of "the evil one" and practises the tradition of "laying-on of hands" while working. He said in a speech to the Australian Christian Churches conference in April 2021 that he believes he was elected to do God's work,[200] although later said that his comments were mischaracterised and that they were meant to reflect his belief that "whatever you do every day... is part of your Christian service".[201]

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Further reading

External links

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Bruce Baird
Member of Parliament
for Cook

2007–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Burke
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
2013–2014
Succeeded by
Peter Dutton
Preceded by
Kevin Andrews
Minister for Social Services
2014–2015
Succeeded by
Christian Porter
Preceded by
Joe Hockey
Treasurer of Australia
2015–2018
Succeeded by
Josh Frydenberg
Preceded by
Malcolm Turnbull
Prime Minister of Australia
2018–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Malcolm Turnbull
Leader of the Liberal Party
2018–present
Incumbent
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