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 in New South Wales 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, responsible for implementing Operation Sovereign Borders, aimed at preventing people smuggling. In late 2014 he was appointed Minister for Social Services after a cabinet reshuffle. He became the Treasurer of Australia in the First Turnbull Ministry.
Early life and education
Morrison grew up in Waverley 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 sixteen years.
Morrison was educated at Sydney Boys High School, where he completed his Higher School Certificate. In March 2015, approximately three hundred 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 stating that the school should not celebrate a person who has "so flagrantly disregarded human rights".
Morrison went on to the University of New South Wales, where he received an honours degree in Applied Economic Geography.
Before entering parliament, Morrison was the managing director of Tourism Australia 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.
During his tenure as managing director of Tourism Australia, Morrison approved the "So where the bloody hell are you?" advertising campaign.
Election to Parliament
Morrison sought Liberal preselection 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. 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 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.
Shadow ministry 2008-2013
In September 2008, Morrison was appointed to Malcolm Turnbull's coalition front bench as shadow minister for housing and local government.
On December 8, 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."
In December 2010, forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. On February 15, 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.
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 guide-lines 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 2013-2015
On September 18, 2013, Morrison launched Operation Sovereign Borders, the newly elected Coalition government strategy aimed at stopping unauthorised boats departing for Australia., 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. The annual refugee intake, which had recently been increased to 20,000 by the Labor Government, was reduced to 13,750.
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 members of the Australian Senate, 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, pointing out 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 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. 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.
The bill caused 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.
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.
Turnbull Government 2015-Since
Morrison was appointed as Treasurer of the Turnbull Government in September 2015. 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.
Other Parliamentary roles
Morrison has served on parliamentary committees, including as deputy chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, as well as the 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.