Scott Morrison (politician)

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The Honourable
Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison.jpg
Minister for Social Services
Assumed office
23 December 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Preceded by Kevin Andrews
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
In office
18 September 2013 – 23 December 2014
Prime Minister Tony Abbott
Preceded by Tony Burke
Succeeded by Peter Dutton
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Cook
Assumed office
24 November 2007
Preceded by Bruce Baird
Personal details
Born Scott John Morrison
(1968-05-13) 13 May 1968 (age 46)
Nationality Australian
Political party Liberal Party of Australia
Residence Lilli Pilli, New South Wales
Alma mater University of New South Wales
Occupation Politician
Profession Marketing, tourism, property, politics
Religion Christianity[1]

Scott John Morrison (born 13 May 1968) is a member of the Australian House of Representatives and the Liberal Party. He was elected in the 2007 federal election to the Division of Cook, an electorate in the southern suburbs of Sydney, which includes Cronulla, Caringbah, and Miranda. After the Liberal Party was elected to government at the 2013 federal election, Morrison was appointed the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection,[2] responsible for implementing Operation Sovereign Borders, aimed at preventing people smuggling and asylum seeker deaths at sea. At the end of 2014 he was appointed Minister for Social Services after a cabinet reshuffle.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Morrison grew up in Bronte in Sydney's eastern suburbs. His father was a policeman and his mother worked in administrative positions. Outside their day jobs, Morrison's parents ran youth programs for the local church. His father was involved in aged care and served as a local-government councillor for 16 years.

Morrison was educated at Sydney Boys High School, where he completed his Higher School Certificate, and other state schools. He went on to the University of New South Wales, where he received an honours degree in applied science, studying economics and geography.

Pre-political career[edit]

Before entering parliament, Morrison was the managing director of Tourism Australia[4] and NSW State Director of the Liberal Party of Australia from 2000 to 2004. Before this, he served in senior executive roles in the tourism and property sector in Australia and New Zealand, including the Property Council of Australia and the Tourism and Transport Forum.

Political career[edit]

Election to Parliament[edit]

Morrison sought Liberal pre-selection for the Division of Cook in the 2007 election following the retirement of Bruce Baird, who had served as the member since 1998. He lost in the ballot 82 votes to 8 to Michael Towke, a telecommunications engineer and the candidate of the Liberals' right faction.[5] However, allegations surfaced that Towke had engaged in branch stacking and had embellished his resume.[6] The state executive of the New South Wales Liberal Party disendorsed Towke and held a new pre-selection ballot, which Morrison won. The allegations against Towke were subsequently proved to be false, and The Daily Telegraph was forced to pay an undisclosed amount to settle a defamation suit filed by Towke.[5]

In September 2008, Morrison was appointed to Malcolm Turnbull's coalition front bench as shadow minister for housing and local government.

Minister for Immigration[edit]

On 8 December 2009, Morrison became shadow minister for immigration and citizenship, coming into the cabinet for the first time during Tony Abbott's first cabinet reshuffle shortly after winning the leadership. He served on the Shadow Cabinet Committee on Border Protection. Abbott described Morrison as "a great talent who was one of the bright new stars of the new generation of MPs."[7]

In December 2010, 48 asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster.[8] On 15 February 2011, Morrison caused controversy[9] when he publicly questioned[10] the decision of the Gillard federal Labor government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney. After fellow Liberal and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey denounced Morrison's statements,[11] Morrison said that the timing of his comments was insensitive,[12] but did not back away from the comments themselves.

In February 2013, Morrison was accused of vilifying asylum seekers with his hard-line reaction to the charging of a Sri Lankan man living in Sydney on a bridging visa with the sexual assault of a university student.[13] He 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. In December 2013 the government revealed the rule that requires asylum seekers who arrive by boat and are in Australia on temporary visas to sign this code of conduct.[14][15]

Morrison has defended the use of the term "illegal arrivals" to describe asylum seekers and he has earlier said asylum seekers have been referred to as "illegal arrivals" who "turn up illegally" on "illegal boats". He further said that "I've always referred to illegal entry" – as opposed to claiming asylum, which is legal – commenting, "I've never claimed that it's illegal to claim asylum."[16][17]

On 18 September 2013, Morrison launched Operation Sovereign Borders, the newly elected Coalition government strategy aimed at stopping unauthorised boats departing for Australia.[18] The practice has been controversial as it has been said to violate the Convention on the Rights of the Child[19] and Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.[20]

In December 2014 Morrison had the Migration and Maritime Powers Legislation Amendment (Resolving the Asylum Legacy Caseload) Bill 2014 successfully 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.[21][22] The bill reintroduces temporary protection visas (TPVs) to deal specifically with the backlog of 30,000 people who arrived under the previous Labor Government but are yet to be processed. This will allow those on bridging visas to apply for work, and increases the refugee intake to 18,750.[23] The Coalition government had previously cut the intake from 20,000 to 13,750 after being elected.[24] The bill created controversy in parliament because Morrison stated he would release children held in immigration detention on Christmas Island if Senate cross-benchers agreed to vote for the legislation, however, he could have released the children at any time.[25] This led to suggestions that Morrison was using the children as political bargaining chips to gain access to the powers granted by the bill.[26]

In late 2014, it was suggested that Morrison was engaged in attempts to enlarge his portfolio responsibilities in areas belonging to the portfolios of other ministers, including foreign affairs, the Attorney-General, defence, health, justice, and agriculture.[27] Some of Morrison's ministerial colleagues were reported to have said they believed Morrison was "eyeing off" other minister's portfolio responsibilities. Morrison denied this.[28]

At the end of 2014 Morrison was appointed Minister for Social Services in a cabinet reshuffle.

Other Parliamentary roles[edit]

Morrison has served on parliamentary committees, including deputy chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, House Committee on Economics, House Committee on Families, Community and Housing, and House Committee on Health and Ageing. He has served on the Coalition's Policy Committees on Social Policy, Education and Industrial Relations and Legal and Immigration issues, as well as the Party Leader's Taskforces on Party Reform and Reform of Federalism.


  1. ^ Burnside, Julian (23 December 2014). "Scott Morrison's calculated cruelty is his legacy". The Age. Retrieved 23 December 2014. 
  2. ^ "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Dutton to immigration in reshuffle". December 21, 2014. PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has promoted Peter Dutton to immigration and moved Scott Morrison into social services in a much bigger ministerial reshuffle than expected. 
  4. ^ "Australian State and Federal Elections". The Poll Bludger. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Sheehan, Paul. Nasty saga you nearly missed. The Sydney Morning Herald, 2009-10-26.
  6. ^ Liberal Party disendorses Michael Towke. PM (ABC News), 2007-08-03.
  7. ^ Maiden, Samantha (8 December 2009). "Abbott gives fresh start –". Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Authorities: Death toll up to 48 in Christmas Island shipwreck". CNN. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Hartcher, Peter (19 February 2011). "Ugly game of race baiting". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]
  11. ^ Coorey, Phillip; Needham, Kirsty (16 February 2011). "Hockey calls for compassion in funeral row". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  12. ^ [2][dead link]
  13. ^ "Coalition calls for asylum housing review". Retrieved 5 October 2014. 
  14. ^ "Refugees caught swearing could be sent back to warzones". The Sydney Morning Herald. 2 February 2014. Retrieved 2 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Scott Morrison's new rules put asylum seekers on notice to behave". The Sydney Morning Herald. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 21 December 2013. 
  16. ^ "Immigration Minister Scott Morrison defends use of term 'illegal arrivals', plays down PNG police incident". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 October 2013. Retrieved 22 October 2013. 
  17. ^ "Scott Morrison correct on 'illegal entry' of people without a visa". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  18. ^ Cowie, Thea (18 September 2013). "Coalition launches Operation Sovereign Borders". SBS News. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  19. ^ Peer, Sophie (3 July 2014). "A child will die in immigration detention unless the system changes". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  20. ^ Laughland, Oliver (3 July 2014). "UN: 'profound concern' at Australia's handling of Tamil asylum seekers". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  21. ^ Doherty, Ben (5 December 2014). "Senate gives Scott Morrison unchecked control over asylum seekers’ lives". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Morton, Adam (7 December 2014). "The unprecedented immigration powers awarded to Scott Morrison". The Age. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  23. ^ Yaxley, Louise; Norman, Jane (5 December 2014). "Temporary protection visas: Senate votes to bring back temporary visas after deal to get children off Christmas Island". ABC. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  24. ^ Morton, Adam (7 December 2014). "The unprecedented immigration powers awarded to Scott Morrison". The Age. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  25. ^ Balogh, Stefanie; Owens, Jared (5 December 2014). "Morrison ‘won’t take moral lectures’ after migration laws pass". The Australian. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  26. ^ Burnside, Julian (8 December 2014). "By bargaining with children, Morrison's refugee strategy has a kidnapper's logic". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  27. ^ Massola, James (23 October 2014). "Scott Morrison denies ministerial power grab". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
  28. ^ Massola, James (23 October 2014). "Scott Morrison denies ministerial power grab". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 9 January 2015. 
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Bruce Baird
Member for Cook
Political offices
Preceded by
Tony Burke
as Minister for Immigration,
Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship
Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
Succeeded by
Peter Dutton
Preceded by
Kevin Andrews
Minister for Social Services