Australia’s former Prime Minister Scott Morrison has revealed his decision to step down from parliamentary duties to pursue opportunities in the private sector. Morrison, a conservative figure who held office from 2018 to 2022 and was initially elected in 2007, played a key role in shaping Australia’s response to the pandemic, establishing the Aukus defense pact, and grappling with a historic scandal involving undisclosed ministerial appointments during his tenure.
Addressing the public on Tuesday, Morrison, 55, expressed his intent to take on “strategic advisory roles” in the Asia-Pacific region, with a specific focus on security matters in the Indo-Pacific. A devout Christian, he also emphasized his anticipation of increased involvement in his church and dedicated time with his family.
Morrison’s decision to retire aligns with expectations that have persisted since his notable defeat to Labor’s Anthony Albanese in the 2022 elections. The defeat marked a historic low for the Liberal-National coalition, attributed in part to Australia’s reputation as a climate laggard, a key factor influencing voters favoring candidates committed to more ambitious emissions reductions.
While Morrison’s early pandemic response, including border closures and lockdown measures, earned him initial praise, criticism arose due to a delayed vaccine rollout. Additionally, his administration faced challenges in its relationship with China, Australia’s largest trading partner, leading to a trade dispute and a prolonged diplomatic freeze.
Morrison’s later focus on bolstering regional security alliances, such as the Quad partnership with India, Japan, and the US, and the Aukus nuclear submarine deal with the UK and US, marked a strategic shift. However, public support waned, particularly following controversies such as his holiday in Hawaii during the 2019-2020 bushfires and his handling of sexual misconduct allegations within parliament.
After the 2022 election loss, Morrison returned to the opposition backbench and faced parliamentary censure for his secret ministerial powers during the pandemic. Despite the legal validation of his actions, the fallout from these decisions contributed to a challenging period in his political career.
Morrison’s political journey began in 2013 as immigration minister, overseeing Operation Sovereign Borders, before ascending to higher offices, including social services minister and treasurer. His unexpected 2019 federal election victory solidified his status as the first prime minister to serve a full term since John Howard in 2007, concluding a decade marked by leadership challenges in both major parties.