Reason for Scott Morrison firing revealed after 16 years: 'I was gobsmacked'

·News Editor
·3-min read

Scott Morrison's former boss has revealed why she fired him in an extraordinary interview in which she said she was "gobsmacked" he went on to become the prime minister – something which the former Liberal minister described as a "tragedy for the nation".

The end of Mr Morrison's tenure at Tourism Australia has long been shrouded in rumour and mystery after he was sacked by the taxpayer-funded body back in 2006.

Fran Bailey was Tourism Minister in John Howard's Liberal government at the time and ordered the Chair of Tourism Australia to terminate his contract, but never spoke on the record about the decision.

That is until now.

Former Liberal PM John Howard seen alongside Fran Bailey as Minister for Small Business and Tourism in Parliament in 2005.
Former Liberal PM John Howard seen alongside Fran Bailey as Minister for Small Business and Tourism in Parliament in 2005. Source: Getty

Ms Bailey has given a brutal interview for the former prime minister, revealing to the Sunday Age what she thought of his personal management style.

"What has changed my mind is that all of those characteristics that make up Scott Morrison – the secrecy... the supreme belief that only he can do a job, the lack of consultation with those closest to him – those characteristics were evident 16 years ago, and perhaps we’re seeing the end result of those now," she told the paper.

Ms Bailey was reportedly motivated to finally spill the beans after being left incensed by revelations that Mr Morrison secretly swore himself into five additional ministerial positions while prime minister.

Speaking to the paper's longtime columnist Jon Faine, Ms Bailey echoed a common criticism of Mr Morrison, saying he takes a bullying approach to his work. And that approach eventually eroded the trust his seniors had in him to do the job.

Scott Morrison as Managing Director of Tourism Australia in 2004.
Scott Morrison as Managing Director of Tourism Australia in 2004. Source: Getty

"It came down to a complete lack of trust. It’s not something that I have stewed over for all those 16 years, but I certainly have become very concerned as he worked his way through the ministry, and I was gobsmacked when he became prime minister," she told The Age.

"Because I knew what he was really like to work with, and I think that’s been a tragedy for the Liberal Party and it has been a tragedy for our nation."

During his time at Tourism Australia, Mr Morrison oversaw the controversial 'Where the bloody hell are you?' ad campaign featuring Lara Bingle.

Ms Bailey joined the chorus of critics saying Mr Morrison should leave Parliament over the recent revelations. Karen Andrews, who was Home Affairs Minister in the Morrison Government, has also called for him to go.

Lara Bingle seen in the infamous ad overseen by Mr Morrison.
Lara Bingle seen in the infamous ad overseen by Mr Morrison. Source: YouTube

Advice from the country's solicitor-general released last week found that while Mr Morrison's actions undermined the principles of "responsible government", he did not break any laws by secretly vacuuming up ministerial powers.

Former High Court judge Virginia Bell will head an inquiry into his actions with a report scheduled to be handed down on November 25.

Along with Mr Morrison's ministerial appointments, the inquiry will also examine the functioning of departments, government business enterprises and statutory bodies.

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