Australia

Who is Scott Morrison? Meet Australia's new Prime Minister

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Scott Morrison has become Australia's sixth leader in a decade.

After a week of shock twists and turns in Australian politics, Federal Treasurer Scott Morrison has won the Liberal leadership vote against Peter Dutton, making him the country’s 30th prime minister.

It's understood Mr Morrison - who has served as treasurer since 2015 - won the leadership contest 45 to 40 votes in the party room, with the motion to force a spill also carried 45 to 40 votes.

He emerged as a potential compromise candidate this week after Mr Dutton declared his intention to challenge for the leadership on Tuesday.

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison arrives for the Liberal Party room meeting on Friday.
Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison arrives for the Liberal Party room meeting on Friday.
AAP

But he assured reporters on Wednesday he wasn't eyeing up the top job.

“The prime minister has my full and total support, and I want to put to rest any suggestion I've made an approach,” he said.

“It's all the usual nonsense and the PM knows exactly where I stand, the Australian people always know where I stand”.

Scott Morrison, right.
Scott Morrison, right, and Malcolm Turnbull on Thursday.
AAP

Who is Scott Morrison?

Scott Morrison - or “ScoMo” as he has come to be known - grew up in the Sydney beachside suburb of Bronte. His father was a police commander and local-government councillor.

Destined to be in the public eye, he had a short-lived career as a child actor, appearing in a number of TV ads.

After completing high school he went on to accomplish an honours degree in applied economic geography at the University of New South Wales.

Mr Morrison, 50, married his childhood sweetheart Jenny when he was 21. They have two daughters.

He is a devout Christian who worships at a Hillsong-style Pentecostal church in Sydney.

Scott Morrison with his family
Scott Morrison with his family in July 2016.
AAP

He has held various positions on councils promoting Australia's tourism industry and was the managing director of Tourism Australia between 2004 and 2006.

He spent four years as the state director of the NSW Liberal Party and entered federal politics in 2007, winning the seat of Cook in the southern suburbs of Sydney, which he has held ever since.

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'We’re on your side': Scott Morrison's vision for prime ministership
'We’re on your side': Scott Morrison's vision for prime ministership

What issues is he known for?

In his maiden speech, Mr Morrison said he was “proud” of Kevin Rudd’s national apology to Indigenous Australians that the parliament had witnessed only the day before.

He also called for greater humanitarian aid to Africa, quoting U2 front-man and activist Bono.

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Scott Morrison basks in the glory of his leadership victory
Scott Morrison basks in the glory of his leadership victory

"The African tragedy is driven by war, poverty, disease, famine, corruption, injustice and an evil that is robbing generations of Africans, our fellow human beings, of their future," he said. 

"Paul Hewson, better known as Bono, said: There is a continent - Africa - being consumed by flames ... when the history books are written, our age will be remembered for ... what we did -or did not do to put the fire out'." 

The speech was dedicated to Mr Morrison's “miracle child” Abbey Rose (the couple went through 10 rounds of IVF before conceiving naturally) “in the hope of an even better future for her and her generation”.

Scott Morrison
Scott Morrison delivers his maiden speech at Parliament House in February 2008.
AAP

Over the decade he has spent in parliament, he has held three senior federal portfolios.

He made his mark as minister for immigration and border protection in 2013 by launching the "stop the boats" policy (Operation Sovereign Borders) to curtail immigration and people smuggling to Australia.

In 2018 it was revealed, while in the role, Mr Morrison had asked ASIO to delay security checks on asylum seekers so they would miss a deadline to obtain permanent protection visas.

Mr Turnbull leapt to his defence in the face of strong public backlash.

"We make no apologies for sending the clearest message to the people smugglers and to their would-be customers: 'If you think you can come to Australia on a people smuggler's boat, you're wrong. You won't. You won't get here, you will not become a permanent resident'," Mr Turnbull said.

Mr Morrison spent nine months in the role of Social Services minister before being appointed treasurer in September 2015.

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Australia faces its sixth prime ministerial change in 11 years
Australia faces its sixth prime ministerial change in 11 years

What has he achieved as treasurer?

In a 2016 Fairfax interview, he said he once aspired to the Defence portfolio and never anticipated ending up in the role of treasurer. He counts Australia's longest-serving treasurer, Peter Costello, among his mentors.

In his time as treasurer, Mr Morrison promoted the economic theory of growing overall wealth to solve financial shortfalls, believing when there's more to go around, everyone wins.

"You've got to make the pie bigger. If the pie is bigger, everyone is getting more, and regardless of what their share is, except for Western Australia,” he said when announcing the last budget.  

“Over the next four years, the GST pool is going to grow by $6.5 billion specifically because of the decisions we have taken as a government."

In early 2018 he asked Australians to put their trust in the Coalition, saying the most important thing was stability.

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The Australian economy is now pulling out of one of the toughest periods we have faced in generations ... our national economy is strengthening, but it is also true that the benefits are yet to reach everyone. And this will take more time. 

“That is why it is important to stick to our plan ... We are close to our destination, and we must stick to the plan."

A federal election is due in the next nine months. 

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Views on changing leadership
Views on changing leadership

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