Former Aussie PM pens memoir of faith

Scott Morrison with wife Jenny.(Photo: Instagram/Scott Morrison)

It has become almost a tradition for political leaders to release a tell-all book when they leave office, usually focussed on talking up their achievements or settling old scores. But, the recently released memoir by Scott Morrison, the 30th Prime Minister of Australia, takes a somewhat different approach, looking at his political career through the lens of his Christian faith and delving into the way his beliefs influenced his approach to leadership.

First elected to Parliament in 2007, Morrison served as Prime Minister from 2018 to 2022 before quitting politics altogether in February this year. His premiership encompassed a tumultuous time in Australian politics, including the Covid-19 pandemic and an increasingly fraught relationship with China, as well as a number of political scandals.

However, Morrison was also notable for being the first Prime Minister to identify as a Pentecostal. In a country that traditionally has preferred a less demonstrative observance of religion from its elected leaders, Morrison often attracted criticism for his overt displays of faith and public references to practices such as praying for guidance—his supporters claiming this criticism sometimes crossed the line into religious discrimination.

In his new book, Plans for Your Good: A Prime Minister's Testimony of God's Faithfulness, Morrison takes readers on an even deeper journey into his faith, and the way it shaped his approach to leadership and life. Full of Biblical references and spiritual quotations, the book is in many ways more devotional resource than standard political autobiography.

For example, when discussing his role in the leadership challenge that saw then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull ousted before Morrison stepped into his role, he writes:

"I had been praying about the situation all week. I had been seeking the counsel and fellowship of Christian friends and mentors. I was talking to [wife] Jen. I was reading God's Word. I weighed the practical possibilities and I had a pretty good sense of the numbers we could count on.

"I sought the peace of God that surpasses all understanding, and He provided it (Philippians 4:7). At each stage I sought to be sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit ... After careful consideration, I decided that the path of obedience was to step up. So I raised my staff and walked toward the sea."

Speaking to The Age newspaper in the leadup to the book's release, Morrison defended making his faith such a central part of his politics while respecting the diverse nature of Australian society, saying he was "always quite conscious of trying to keep this balance".

"I was very conscious that yes, I was an evangelical Christian, but the country had no national religion and nor should it. So I didn't want to blur those lines. But equally, I didn't want to undermine the integrity of my faith," Morrison said.

"People used to accuse me of peddling my faith, which I found outrageous by the way. If I was peddling my faith, you would have known. Based on what you've now read, I kept all of that within."

Morrison's book also addresses his personal life and relationships, talking about he and wife Jenny's IVF journey, and revealing that at one point during his Prime Ministership his mental health suffered so severely under the strain of office that his doctor prescribed medication.

Morrison said that the book's release might lead to more opportunities to share his faith now that he has left politics for the private arena.

"I speak occasionally around Australia at churches and my own church and I preach there and I'm looking forward to doing more of that both in Australia and overseas," he said.

The book is published by United States-based religious publisher Thomas Nelson. After an initial launch in Sydney on May 9, a second launch will be held at the Australian Embassy in Washington, DC, on May 15, and will feature former prime minister Kevin Rudd and former US President Donald Trump's former CIA director, Mike Pompeo.