Scott Morrison finally shows his real self in former PM’s final speech to Parliament

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Katina Curtis
The Nightly
3 Min Read
Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers his valedictory speech in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, February 27, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING
Former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers his valedictory speech in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra, Tuesday, February 27, 2024. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING Credit: LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE

Move over Scotty from marketing, Australia might have finally seen the real Scott Morrison.

The nation’s 30th prime minister rose to deliver just his eighth speech to Parliament since the election, watched on by most of his Coalition colleagues, former staff, and family.

Twin themes of service and faith wove through Mr Morrison’s remarks.

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He acknowledged towards the end that his heavy emphasis on his Christianity may make some uncomfortable and, pre-empting that response, he quoted scripture: “I am not ashamed.”

And he took on the pose of a preacher as he lauded “God’s country, the Shire” that he has made his home and political base.

Ahead of the 2022 election, Mr Morrison told a newspaper profile writer he hadn’t thought about his legacy, that he preferred to get on with the job.

Despite this, Mr Morrison has spent many of his public contributions since his election loss defending his legacy and record.

While his work to steer Australia through the pandemic comparatively unscathed is widely acknowledged, the subsequent revelations about his unprecedented move to secretly assume five ministerial portfolios tarnished everything that came before it.

Mr Morrison nodded to this, as he joked to the former staffers watching on from the gallery that he wouldn’t name each of them “and nor do I wish to injure your reputations by doing so”.

But he largely resisted mounting a further defence of his legacy in his valedictory speech.

Instead, he preferred a lengthy list of people to thank for their service to “an opportunity to run through a bullet point list of things”.

The bloke from the Shire became emotional at several points, choking up as he spoke of his daughters and family, the AFP protective officers who were injured in a car crash in Tasmania on his 2022 election campaign trail, and his faith.

He then turned to his three biggest takeaways from politics: the importance of a strong economy, the rise of the “arc of autocracy” and threats to democratic countries, and the strength of Judeo-Christian beliefs to avoid the “valueless void” of advancing secularism.

This was ground familiar to those who may have caught one of his speeches to overseas foreign policy groups and church functions over the past 18 months, and points to his likely post-politics career.

A valedictory speech – and the gracious responses from Anthony Albanese (who beat Morrison) and Peter Dutton (who lost to Morrison) – was never going to canvass the controversial or contested areas of Mr Morrison’s legacy.

But his parting words may give pause to some, especially coming on the heels of his repeated declarations in the ABC’s Nemesis documentaries that he disagreed with others’ assessments of his deeds and character.

“I leave this place, not as one of those timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. I leave having given all in that arena, and there are plenty of scars to show for it,” he said.

“I leave this place appreciative and thankful, unburdened by offences, and released from any bitterness that can so often haunt post-political lives.

“This is due to my faith in Jesus Christ, which gives me the faith to both forgive but also to be honest about my own failures and shortcomings.”

And then he fell back into ScoMo caricature for his closer: “Up, up Cronulla!”

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