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 47)
Sydney, Australia
Political party Liberal Party
Other political
Alma mater University of New South Wales
Religion Christianity
Website Official website

Scott John Morrison (born 13 May 1968) is an Australian politician. He has been a Liberal Party member of the Australian House of Representatives representing the Division of Cook since the 2007 federal election. After the Liberal Party was elected to government at the 2013 federal election, Morrison was appointed the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection,[1] responsible for implementing Operation Sovereign Borders, aimed at preventing people smuggling and asylum seeker deaths at sea. In late 2014 he was appointed Minister for Social Services after a cabinet reshuffle.[2]

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. In March 2015, approximately 300 alumni of the school signed a letter to the school's alumni union protesting Mr Morrison's attendance at an alumni fund-raising event. The letter stated that the school should not celebrate a person who has "so flagrantly disregarded human rights".[3]

Morrison 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, an electorate in the southern suburbs of Sydney, which includes Cronulla, Caringbah, and Miranda, 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 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]

Shadow ministry[edit]

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

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 publicly questioned the decision of the Gillard Labor government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney. 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.[9][10]

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.

Abbott government[edit]

On 18 September 2013, Morrison launched "Operation Sovereign Borders", the newly elected Coalition government strategy aimed at stopping unauthorised boats departing for Australia.[11] The UNHCR has expressed serious concerns that the practice may violate the Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.[12] The annual refugee intake, which had recently been increased to 20,000 by the Labor Government, was reduced to 13,750.[13][14]

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."[15][16]

During his time as Immigration Minister, Morrison's dealings with the media and accountability to the public was widely criticised by journalists, members of the Australian Senate, and others for refusing to provide details about the matters within his portfolio.[17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27] 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.[28][29][30][31][32]

"[The Government should] avoid the goading and the arrogance of Scott Morrison, where he just pours mullock on journalists. By doing that you're saying you don't care if the voters are informed or not. You can't have that; that's disgusting, that attitude. ... When people like Scott Morrison give us the finger when we ask tough questions, we've got to shine a light on that and expose it because it's not acceptable."

Laurie Oakes on The Drum, ABC TV (Australia), 7 November 2013.

Morrison justified this position by saying that it would "put [the government's] operations at risk"[33] and that answering the questions asked of him would assist "people smugglers".[34]

In November 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission delivered a report to the Government which found that Mr Morrison failed in his responsibility to act in the best interests of children in detention during his time as Minister.[35] 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.[36] The Government released the report publicly in February 2015.[37]

In early 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.[38][39] The bill reintroduced temporary protection visas (TPVs) 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.[40]

The bill created controversy in parliament because Morrison stated he could release children held in immigration detention on Christmas Island if Senate cross-benchers agreed to vote for the legislation; however, those opposed to the bill said he could have released the children at any time.[41]

In a cabinet reshuffle in late December 2014, Morrison was replaced as Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and appointed the Minister for Social Services.[42]

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. ^ "Tony Abbott's cabinet and outer ministry". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 September 2013. Retrieved 16 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Dutton to immigration in reshuffle". 21 December 2014. 
  3. ^ Smith, Alexandra (27 March 2015). "Scott Morrison boycott at Sydney Boys High School: alumni say he is 'an embarrassment'". The Age. Retrieved 28 March 2015. 
  4. ^ "Australian State and Federal Elections". The Poll Bludger. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  5. ^ a b Sheehan, Paul (26 October 2009). "Nasty saga you nearly missed". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  6. ^ "Liberal Party disendorses Michael Towke". PM (ABC News)]]. 3 August 2007. 
  7. ^ Maiden, Samantha (8 December 2009). "Abbott gives fresh start –". The Australian. Retrieved 26 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Authorities: Death toll up to 48 in Christmas Island shipwreck". CNN. 20 December 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2013. 
  9. ^ Coorey, Phillip; Needham, Kirsty (16 February 2011). "Hockey calls for compassion in funeral row". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  10. ^ "Lib admits timing of funeral comments 'insensitive'". The Sydney Morning Herald. AAP. 16 February 2011. Retrieved 4 February 2015. 
  11. ^ Cowie, Thea (18 September 2013). "Coalition launches Operation Sovereign Borders". SBS News. Retrieved 1 November 2013. 
  12. ^ Laughland, Oliver (3 July 2014). "UN: 'profound concern' at Australia's handling of Tamil asylum seekers". Guardian Australia. Retrieved 6 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Borrello, Eliza (4 October 2013). "Immigration Minister Scott Morrison says no changes to border protection despite softer language from PM". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  14. ^ Janet Phillips, 'A comparison of Coalition and Labor government asylum policies in Australia since 2001', 28 February 2014, Australian Parliamentary Library Research Paper series 2013-14, 12-13.
  15. ^ "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. 
  16. ^ "Scott Morrison correct on 'illegal entry' of people without a visa". The Sydney Morning Herald. 13 September 2013. Retrieved 13 September 2013. 
  17. ^ "Arrogance and obfuscation a bad mix for Scott Morrison". The Herald Sun. 26 October 2013. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "No comment: government silent over fate of asylum seekers". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  19. ^ "Scott Morrison refuses to answer parliamentary questions on boat arrival". The Guardian (Australia). 13 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  20. ^ "Morrison refuses to answer rescue questions". PM (ABC News) (Australia). 8 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Scott Morrison's secrecy would be funny if it wasn't so serious". 20 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  22. ^ "“Talk To The Hand” — The Australian Government, To Everyone". The Global Mail. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Silence over boats sells public short". The Age. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  24. ^ "Secrecy over asylum seeker boat turn-backs puts navy in a bind". The Age. 25 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  25. ^ Kelly, Fran (6 July 2014). "Insiders Sunday 06 July" (streaming video). Insiders ABC TV (Australia). Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "Scott Morrison interview takes on Pythonesque proportions". Canberra Times. 6 July 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  27. ^ "Senate tests secrecy on asylum". The Australian. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 8 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "Morrison mute on reported asylum seeker handover". SBS News. 3 July 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  29. ^ "Scott Morrison defends vow of silence on asylum seeker boat arrivals". The Guardian. 23 September 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  30. ^ "Motion passed to force Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to report asylum-seeker incidents at sea". The Age. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  31. ^ "Minister's office won't confirm briefings". 27 January 2014. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  32. ^ "Laurie Oakes discusses Scott Morrison on The Drum". 7 November 2013. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. 
    Video expired, embedded in self-published youtube video.
  33. ^ "No comment: government silent over fate of asylum seekers". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  34. ^ "Scott Morrison refuses to answer parliamentary questions on boat arrival". The Guardian. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 5 February 2015. 
  35. ^ Australian Human Rights Commission, The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2014), 13.
  36. ^ Australian Human Rights Commission, The Forgotten Children: National Inquiry into Children in Immigration Detention (2014), 13.
  37. ^ Whyte, Sarah (12 February 2015). "Human Rights Commission should congratulate Scott Morrison: Tony Abbott responds to report on children in immigration detention". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  38. ^ Doherty, Ben (5 December 2014). "Senate gives Scott Morrison unchecked control over asylum seekers’ lives". The Guardian (Australia). Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  39. ^ Morton, Adam (7 December 2014). "The unprecedented immigration powers awarded to Scott Morrison". The Age. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  40. ^ 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 News (Australia). Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  41. ^ Balogh, Stefanie; Owens, Jared (5 December 2014). "Morrison ‘won’t take moral lectures’ after migration laws pass". The Australian. Retrieved 8 December 2014. 
  42. ^ McDonald, Susan (22 December 2014). "Cabinet reshuffle: Scott Morrison moves to Social Services; Sussan Ley promoted as second woman in Cabinet; David Johnston leaves". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Bruce Baird
Member of Parliament
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