24 Aug 2018

Scott Morrison's rise to Australia's top job

6:27 pm on 24 August 2018

When a bikini-clad model called Lara Bingle spruiked Australia by asking, "So where the bloody hell are you?", it was Scott Morrison who had approved the controversial $180 million tourism campaign.

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Scott Morrison is the new leader of the Liberal Party and the thirtieth prime minister of Australia. Photo: AFP

In 2006, he was Tourism Australia's inaugural managing director, but it wasn't Mr Morrison's first experience at crafting catchy, cut-through slogans - a skill he would later use to great effect during his rapid rise in federal politics.

Years earlier, he'd been involved in the highly acclaimed "100% Pure New Zealand" campaign after being recruited to set up that country's Office of Tourism and Sport.

With a year remaining on his contract he returned to Sydney in early 2000 to take up the job of state director of the NSW Liberal Party.

Having overseen the Liberal Party's campaign in the 2001 federal and 2003 state campaigns, the ambitious political operative made his first tilt for Parliament at the 2007 federal election.

His sights were set on the safe Liberal seat of Cook in southern Sydney, but he suffered a crushing defeat in the first preselection vote to young Lebanese Catholic, Michael Towke.

He eventually clinched the seat, and in September 2008 the new opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull appointed Mr Morrison to his frontbench as shadow minister for housing and local government.

A year later, Tony Abbott successfully challenged Mr Turnbull as opposition leader and invited Scott Morrison into his shadow cabinet as immigration and citizenship spokesman.

As shadow immigration minister he masterfully exploited the issue of asylum seeker arrivals during the Rudd and Gillard governments, and he devised another effective slogan: "stop the boats".

When the Abbott government was elected in 2013 Mr Morrison launched Operation Sovereign Borders, the tough, military-led strategy to stop unauthorised boats departing for Australia, a policy which ultimately proved successful.

In a December 2014 cabinet reshuffle Mr Morrison moved to the social services ministry and began remaking his public image to broaden his appeal.

After Mr Abbott was removed as prime minister, Mr Turnbull rewarded Mr Morrison's support with a promotion to the prized position of treasurer, where he handed down his first federal budget in 2016.

During last year's heated debate over same-sex marriage, the devout Christian strongly supported the "no" case and claimed he had also endured bigotry from those who opposed his views.

As treasurer, Mr Morrison delivered three budgets, but the leadership ambitions of the number one ticket holder for the Cronulla Sharks were always obvious to his colleagues.

Now after more than a decade in Parliament he's finally clinched the top job in politics, Prime Minister.