Published on Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Ex Tourism Australia’s Scott Morrison makes anticipated next political step

A report in The Australian this morning reveals, as reported in TravelMole recently that Scott Morrison, the recently ousted head of Tourism Australia and former NSW Liberal director would remerge somewhere in the political arena.

After a series of political stumbles the NSW Opposition Leader Peter Debnam's office has been reorganised and Scott Morrison, now described as Political Consultant will join Mr Debnam's team today, taking the role of what is described as a "minder" to  “follow Mr Debnam along every step of the road to the March 24 state election”.

The Australian reports that it understands the move has been made on the advice and encouragement of John Howard, who worked closely with Mr Morrison on the successful 2001 and 2004 federal election campaigns.

TravelMole subscribers will recall that last August as reported first in TravelMole  that Mr Morrison, 38, took what was described as an "agreed separation" from Tourism Australia, where he was Managing Director, after a massive spat with Federal Tourism Minister Fran Bailey. 

It is also reported that he agreed not to talk publicly about the termination in exchange for a $500,000 payout.

Scott Morrison’s appointment to Mr Debnam's staff follows a pretty disastrous final two weeks in the NSW Parliament for the Coalition leader.

After riding high on the political fallout from the November 8 arrest of former NSW Aboriginal affairs minister Milton Orkopoulos, who faces 30 child-sex-related charges, Mr Debnam launched an ill-fated attack on the reputation of Attorney-General Bob Debus, but a series of parliamentary questions on Mr Debus's alleged improper conduct as corrective services minister in the late 1990s petered out as it became clear the Opposition was relying on the discredited testimony of a convicted pedophile and bank robber.

Apparently Mr Morrison will attempt to refocus voter attention on the sluggish NSW economy while exploiting a public perception that the Government of NSW Premier Morris Iemma has reached its use-by date.

He is a member of Sydney's evangelical Hillsong Church and belongs to the same faction as Mr Howard, the Right.

When Mr Morrison took over as State Director in 2000, after a role at KPMG, the party in NSW was deep in debt and disorganised.

In 12 months though he turned the party machine into a political strike-force that snatched three seats from Labor.  Shortly after the 2004 federal election, when Mr Morrison worked hard to get fellow Hillsong member Louise Markus elected in the marginal Sydney seat of Greenway, the Prime Minister singled him out for particular praise and declared he had never seen the NSW party in a better state organisationally.

In recent times, Mr Howard has made clear his concerns about the operation of his home branch in NSW and at a gala dinner in March, he urged the party to select its candidates based on merit, not factional allegiance.

While Mr Debnam agreed yesterday the new appointment had the Prime Minister's full support he did not say whether he agreed with it.

As a result of Mr Morrison’s recent learning curve at Tourism Australia, let’s hope the Tourism industry will receive more attention from the NSW Liberal Party in the run up to the election and if they succeed after the election. 

The government tourism field in NSW is clear and ripe for substantial reorganisation with Labour Minister Sandra Nori not receiving preselection in addition to considerable industry dissatisfaction and criticism of her performance and that of TNSW with the Labour Government slashing funds to tourism leaving the State lagging far behind in the both international and domestic tourism stakes.

Report by The Mole

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  • Reply on behalf of The Mole!

    Thanks for your comments Mere Observer and The Mole likes the cheque mate pun - good one!! Not going to comment on your first comment - The Mole knows what The Mole knows, but it is not important anyway! Re the "massive spat" with Fran Bailey, The Mole did not say it was not a continuance of the immense friction between the two during Morrison's earlier days with the NSW Liberal Party as that was not really important either - confirms though that he had support from above right from John Howard. Agree that things should have been cleared well before he took up the post at TA, but he wanted to be top dog and so did the Minister - it was clear who was going to win and that is what it became about - the PM had to make a decision, his Minister or Morrison?? Answer obvious - goodbye Scott! Tim Fischer was in the middle of the spat and not surprising that he gave a glowing testimonial - I suspect as he breathed a sigh of relief that the fighting was over! What does Fran think? The Mole reckon she had no alternative but to smile and accept it - it was the price of getting rid of him! Hey, if the Libs get into NSW, The Mole says that their contribution and committment to tourism could not possibly be any worse than the current Government's and at least Scott will know the personalities!!

    By John Alwyn-Jones, Friday, December 1, 2006

  • Scott 'cheque, mate' Morrison

    First of all, it was the AFR, not Travel Mole who were first to report Scott Morrison's departure from TA. And the "massive spat" with Fran Bailey was, in fact, a continuance of the immense friction between the two during Morrison's earlier days with the NSW Liberal Party; air that should have been cleared well before he took up the post at TA. It was interesting to note that when he set up Morrison Strategic Advisory Services, a political consultancy, almost immediately after leaving TA, he sent out a prospectus that contained a glowing testimonial from TA Chairman Tim Fischer, who had been the one whose job it was to euphemistically "accept his resignation". The Fischer testimonial described him as "a top strategist and an impressive leader who knows how to get his point across and take others with him.” How confusing, yet how illuminating!! As for Morrison receiving an estimated $500,000 on condition that he agreed not to talk publicly about the termination of his contract, if this is indeed true, it is a massive chunk of taxpayers' money, given the short time he was with TA -- especially as he "resigned". One wonders what Fran Bailey thinks about all this -- especially now that her old adversary is back on the Lib's payroll. If Mr Morrison does have an impact on the Libs in NSW, and if they were to gain power in the State, it would indeed be a good thing if his short stint at TA made him a Warrior For Tourism. But do not hold your breath.

    By Mere Observer, Friday, December 1, 2006

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