Former prime minister Scott Morrison will retire from politics next month to take up a role in the global corporate sector. He is expected to be based largely in the United States and work with former Trump administration heavyweights.
Mr Morrison will reportedly join former secretary of state Mike Pompeo at the new Australian-US military venture capital firm DYNE Maritime, as well as some work at American Global Strategies, owned by former Trump national security advisor Robert O’Brien.
It ends a 16-year career in federal politics, a quarter of which he spent as prime minister. The move will also spark a by-election in his Sydney seat of Cook, which will likely remain in Liberal hands.
The former PM made the announcement on Tuesday (23 January) via Facebook.
“Just letting you know (especially everyone locally) that after more than 16 years as the Member for Cook, I have decided to leave parliament at the end of February to take on new challenges in the global corporate sector and spend more time with my family,” Mr Morrison wrote.
“I am extremely grateful to my family, friends, local community and local party members and supporters in Cook for their incredible support during this time, that has enabled me to serve my country at the highest level and make Australia a stronger, more secure and more prosperous country. It has been a great honour to serve as the Member for Cook and as Prime Minister.
“I also thank my staff and parliamentary colleagues over the years for their friendship and support, especially my Deputy Leader Josh Frydenberg and Deputy PMs Michael McCormack and Barnaby Joyce.
“I also want to wish Peter Dutton and his team all the very best and congratulate him on the great job he has done leading our Party and the Coalition since the last election.
“The Shire and southern Sydney is a great place to live and raise a family. I have always worked hard to try and keep it that way as their local member.
“By giving advance notice of my intention to leave parliament at the end of February, this will give my Party ample time to select a great new candidate who I know will do what’s best for our community and bring fresh energy and commitment to the job.
“I now look forward to continue to enjoying local life here in the Shire and my church community at Horizon with my family and friends, and as always #upupcronulla.”
Morrison was Australia’s 30th prime minister, seizing power in a 2018 Liberal Party leadership spill that cost Malcolm Turnbull the top job.
He lost the 2022 election to Labor’s Anthony Albanese. He was subsequently censured in parliament over his failure to disclose his secret self-appointments to a number of ministries – health, finance, home affairs, industry, and treasury – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
He became the first former PM to be censured by the House of Representatives, where he remained on the backbench since the 2022 election defeat.
His legacy as prime minister will be one of controversy.
He was notoriously (and secretly) on holiday in Hawaii during the 2019 Black Summer bushfires. He was forced to cut his trip short over the public outrage at him being missing in action while Australia burned.
He was subsequently condemned for saying “I don’t hold a hose, mate” when trying to explain during a radio interview why he didn’t initially return to Australia during the fires.
Scenes of him trying to make up for lost PR ground by forcing volunteer firefighters and bushfire victims to unwillingly shake his hand dogged him for the rest of his term in office.
While his formation of the National Cabinet secured a new level of cooperation with the states and territories through the height of the pandemic, and he was praised for his financial support initiatives, failures to fast-track sufficient vaccinations for Australians attracted more outrage.
His role in Robodebt also came back to haunt him during the Royal Commission into the illegal scheme.
In the last days of the 2022 election campaign, while trying to defend the sports rorts pork barrelling that went against departmental advice, he attacked the public service.
By declaring that it was the government and elected representatives who decide where the money should be spent and “not some public servant in Canberra”, he only reinforced that it was his government’s decision to play politics with taxpayers’ money.
Following three years of public officials (state and federal) impressively stepping up in response to the bushfires and the pandemic, 2022 was not the federal election to take a swipe at the public service.
All of this was noted by the voting public who expressed their displeasure at the ballot box.