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Scott John Morrison (; born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician serving as the 30th and current prime minister of Australia. He assumed office in August 2018 upon his election as leader of the Liberal Party.
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.
Morrison was born in Waverley, Sydney, the younger of two sons born to Marion (née Smith) and John Douglas Morrison (1934-2020). His father was a policeman who served on the Waverley Municipal Council, including a single term as mayor. Morrison's maternal grandfather was born in New Zealand. 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. Morrison is descended from William Roberts, a convict who was convicted of stealing yarn and transported to Australia on the First Fleet in 1788.
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. 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.
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.
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. He left this position in 2000, a year before the contract schedule.
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. He signed an initial three-year contract. 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. 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.
This episode and, more generally, his career in marketing led to his satirical sobriquet, "Scotty from Marketing,"
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. In January 2020 Morrison referred to the name as a "snarky comment" used by the Labor Party to discredit him.
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.
However, allegations surfaced that Towke had engaged in branch stacking and had embellished his resume. 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. 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.
Morrison in 2009
In September 2008, Morrison was appointed to Malcolm Turnbull's coalition front bench as shadow minister for housing and local government. 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.
In December 2010, forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. 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. 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.
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. 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.[better source needed]
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.
On 18 September 2013, Morrison launched Operation Sovereign Borders, the new government's strategy aimed at stopping unauthorised boats from entering Australian waters. Cabinet documents from this time revealed in 2018 that Morrison asked for mitigation strategies to avoid granting permanent visas to 700 refugees. 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. The UNHCR expressed concerns that the practice may violate the Refugee Convention. 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. 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."
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."
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. The appointment was criticised by Australian Greens leader Christine Milne who claimed Morrison had a lack of compassion. With a softened change in image, Morrison was commended by welfare and community groups for his accommodating approach and eagerness for the portfolio. Morrison encouraged working mothers and endorsed fixes to the childcare system by making indexation changes to the Family Tax Benefits payment. 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. 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."
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."
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.
Turnbull Government (2015-2018)
Morrison was appointed as Treasurer in the Turnbull Government in September 2015, replacing Joe Hockey. 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.
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. 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.
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." In announcing that the royal commission would take place, Morrison described it as a "regrettable but necessary action." 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.
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. He defeated challenger Peter Dutton by 48 votes to 35. 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. Dutton, Morrison and Julie Bishop announced they would stand for the leadership if that were the case.
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. 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. He was sworn in as prime minister on the evening of 24 August.
Soon after Morrison was sworn in, Nationals backbencher Kevin Hogan moved to the crossbench in protest of the wave of Liberal spills. 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. The Morrison Government remained in minority after Turnbull's seat of Wentworth was lost to independent Kerryn Phelps at a by-election.
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. 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.
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. Morrison condemned "reckless" and "highly offensive" comments made by Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an. Erdo?an repeatedly showed video taken by the Christchurch mosque shooter to his supporters at campaign rallies for upcoming[update]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.
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. 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. Claiming victory on election night, Morrison stated that he had "always believed in miracles." 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. 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. A viral satirical shirt fund raising initiative was followed by a range of community-based responses, including comedian Celeste Barber's fund raise for bushfire relief. 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.
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. 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. Former Prime Minister John Howard defended Morrison's decision not to open an independent inquiry into Porter's conduct.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?"
Morrison was also criticised for not accepting more Afghan refugees, who were fleeing the country after the Talibanseized control of the country in August 2021. He agreed to give humanitarian visas to 3,000 Afghan refugees, a "puny" number when compared to other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom. Morrison later determined that more than 3,000 refugees may be accepted, as the original number was a "floor not a ceiling". He would later state that he would only resettle refugees who came in through "official channels", and those who came to Australia via boat would not receive permanent residency.
At the 2019 Lowy Lecture, Scott Morrison argued that the "distinctiveness of independent nations is preserved within a framework of mutual respect".
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. 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. Later that day, Morrison called a press conference, calling the image "offensive" and "truly repugnant", and demanding a formal apology from the Chinese government. China rejected the demands for an apology on the following day, with the artist of the image creating another artwork To Morrison in response to Morrison's demand. The incident had the effect of unifying Australian politicians in condemning China across party lines while also drawing attention to the Brereton Report. The incident was further seen as a sign of deteriorating relations between Australia and China.
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 ISISbride. New Zealand Prime Minister Ardern had criticised the decision, accusing Australia of abandoning its citizens. 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."
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. 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. 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.
"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."
On 5 May, Morrison, New Zealand Prime MinisterJacinda 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. 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.
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". 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". 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.
As of 17 September 2021, Australia ranked 33rd out of 38 countries in the OECD for percentage of population being fully vaccinated (at 36.01%). 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". 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". During a press conference in July, Morrison issued an apology for the slow vaccine rollout. In August, Morrison declared that the government's problems with the rollout had been "overcome", despite several states having a shortage of vaccines.
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. His daughters attend an independentBaptist 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."
Morrison is Australia's first Pentecostal prime minister. He thinks misuse of social media is the work of "the evil one" and practises the Christian tradition of the "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, although he 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".
^"Results and Publications". marriagesurvey.abs.gov.au. 15 November 2017. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. Retrieved 2018. For breakdown of results by electorate download the Response.xls file and refer to table 2