EDITORIAL EXCERPT: Scott Morrison, the fair dinkum (self-)marketing man

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(Cartoon by Mark David / @mdavidcartoons)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has a corker of a new strategy to win back voters. IA fair dinkum doubts it will work.


IMAGINE A POLITICAL FORCE resolutely behind in the polls in two party preferred terms, but consistently winning the preferred leader polls by a wide margin.

So what does a party do in this situation? Does it change the party policies, or does it switch leaders?

Well, if you are from the Liberal Party of Australia, you dump the popular leader and double down on the unpopular policies.

The Coalition Government is heading for a landslide defeat, whenever it decides to call an election. Especially with that marketing genius Scott Morrison in charge.



Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s links with the marketing industry began in his childhood, with him allegedly starring in a Vicks Cough Drops commercial — although no footage has ever emerged. (The below is not Morrison, though it does look a bit like him!)

After completing a degree in applied economic geography (a sub-discipline of geography, not economics) he went to work for the Property Council.

After seven years there, in 1995, he went into the tourism industry, working for Australian Tourism Task Force, before jumping ship after a year to join its chief rival, the Tourism Council. In 1998, he migrated to New Ζealand, the birthplace of his maternal grandfather, to run the nation’s newly created Office of Tourism and Sport. His tenure there was controversial, with him receiving numerous critical mentions in an Auditor-General’s Report. He eventually left the Land of the Long White Cloud under a cloud himself, with a year left on his contract.

Morrison returned to Australia in April 2000 to become director of the NSW branch of the Liberal Party. He oversaw the Party's campaigns in the 2001 Federal and 2003 State elections.

In 2004, Morrison was appointed by John Howard to be the inaugural managing director of Tourism Australia. The appointment was widely criticised due to its overtly political nature. Morrison is mainly remembered there for his controversial "Where the bloody hell are you?" advertising campaign, featuring Lara Bingle, which was regarded as offensive in many countries. He was sacked from the job by the Government in 2006.

In 2007, he won the seat of Cook for the Liberal Party, despite losing the pre-selection ballot 82 votes to 8, after the opposing candidate, Michael Towke, was disendorsed over allegations of branch-stacking and fraud. These claims were later proven to be false, after a successful defamation action against the Daily Telegraph newspaper. Suspicions linger that Morrison had run a dirty tricks campaign through the media to demonise Towke and parachute himself into the seat.

When recently asked about plans to project images of horses, jockeys and odds for a horse race on the Sydney Opera House, he said he didn’t understand what the problem was, “calling it the biggest billboard in the City”. This, despite the widespread outrage.

Suffice to say, Morrison’s reputation as marketing man appear to be overrated. However, his reputation as a lobbyist and self-promoter appear to be well-deserved.

As The Monthly reported earlier this month:

‘One person who has known Morrison since the early days of his career says he is a “quintessential lobbyist, now lobbying on a wider stage … A professional campaigner, now campaigning for himself.”’

And, true to form, Scott Morrison is now on a huge self-promotional tour, involving a massive billboard bus. Suffice to say, the results have been mixed at best.

The full version of this editorial was originally published as part of the Independent Australia weekly newsletter and is also available to subscribers online in the members only area.

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