Former prime minister Scott Morrison.
Scott Morrison shows off his Taylor Swift bracelet during his valedictory speech in parliament. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS
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‘I leave having given all’: Morrison farewells politics

Andrew Brown February 27, 2024

Former prime minister Scott Morrison says he has no bitterness but plenty of scars as he bid farewell to federal parliament in an at-times emotional address.

In his valedictory speech to the House of Representatives after more than 16 years in parliament, Mr Morrison even worked in references to Taylor Swift.

“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 told parliament on Tuesday.

Peter Dutton congratulates Scott Morrison.
 Peter Dutton congratulates Scott Morrison after his valedictory speech in parliament. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

“While politics may be an important and necessary place for service, I would also warn against it being a surrogate for finding identity, ultimate meaning and purpose in life.

“There are far better options than politics.”

At times choking up, the 30th prime minister said his final speech was not a chance to run through a “bullet-point list”.

He paid tribute to his parliamentary staff and party colleagues, public servants for their work during the COVID pandemic, as well as his protection team, singling out officers who were injured in a car crash in Tasmania during the 2022 election.

The former prime minister used the speech to give a warning for the economy not to be “reinstitutionalised”, while also sounding the alarm on strategic competition and China.

“The 2022 election may have provided an opportunity for Beijing to step back from their failed attempts at coercion, but we must not be deluded,” he said.

“Tactics change but their strategy remains the same. We’re not alone in waking up to this threat.”

Mr Morrison's mother Marion, wife Jenny and daughters Abbey and Lily.
 Scott Morrison’s mother Marion, wife Jenny and daughters Abbey and Lily listen to his speech. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

Mr Morrison managed to work in references to Taylor Swift albums during his speech at the request of his daughters Abbey and Lily, who were in the chamber for the address.

“Often when subjected to the tortured poets who would rise to attack my reputation, in response I always thought it important to be fearless and speak now,” he said.

The departure of Mr Morrison from federal politics will trigger a by-election in the southern Sydney seat of Cook, but a date has yet to be set for the poll.

Mr Morrison served as prime minister between 2018 to 2022, having gained the leadership position following tensions within the coalition.

He guided the party to a “miracle” election victory in 2019, but soon became mired in controversy over his handling of the Black Summer bushfires and his decision to fly to Hawaii for a holiday while the nation burnt.

Mr Morrison led the country through the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and national lockdowns, launching the job-saving JobKeeper scheme, but he came under fire for the response to the vaccine roll-out.

Scott Morrison
 Scott Morrison served as prime minister between 2018 and 2022. Image by Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS 

He was widely criticised when it later emerged he quietly had himself appointed to administer five ministries during the COVID crisis, despite there being incumbent ministers in those portfolios.

Mr Morrison was instrumental in creating and launching the AUKUS defence agreement with the US and the UK which is set to deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton thanked the former prime minister for his service, following tributes to Mr Morrison at a joint party room meeting on Tuesday.

“The decisions that Scott was able to take … steered us through a very difficult course, and put our country onto a path that we should be very proud of,” he told parliament.

“There are many things that you can hang your hat on after a 16-year career, but having had the leading role in savings tens of thousands of lives (during COVID) has to be at the top of the tree.”

Anthony Albanese shakes hands with Scott Morrison.
 Anthony Albanese shakes hands with Scott Morrison after he delivered his valedictory speech. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also paid tribute to his predecessor.

“I can say on behalf of the Australian Labor Party that Prime Minister Morrison was a truly formidable opponent,” he said.

Mr Morrison is set to join the US-based consulting firm American Global Strategies, as well as take up an advisory role with DYNE Maritime, following his political departure.