Scott Morrison calls time on politics, sets up another byelection

Mr Morrison holds Cook by a safe margin of 12 per cent after suffering a two-party swing against him of 6.6 per cent at the 2022 election. The Cook byelection, which could not be held until April at the earliest, will follow that for Dunkley in Victoria which will be held on March 2.

The latter was precipitated by the death of Labor MP Peta Murphy and will be a much closer contest than Cook.

Ms Murphy held Dunkley by a 6 per cent margin and the Liberals are aiming to secure a swing of at last 4 per cent.

Mr Morrison will delay his resignation from parliament until February 29 to give the party time for a thorough preselection process. He had previously expressed a preference for a female candidate but will not be anointing anyone.

Still popular in his electorate, he said he would campaign with whoever his party chooses.

Mr Morrison took the leadership from Malcolm Turnbull in 2018 and defied the polls to win the 2019 election, a victory that he described as a miracle.

Following more than a decade of revolving door leadership challenges, Mr Morrison became the first prime minister to serve a full term since John Howard reigned between 2004 and 2007.

But the ravages of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, his mishandling of the 2019-20 bushfire crisis, and the Brittany Higgins saga contributed to a sharp decline in popularity, and Mr Morrison and the Coalition were bundled out of government in 2022.

Mr Morrison’s legacy was subsequently tarnished by revelations he had himself secretly appointed to five ministerial positions without the knowledge of the public or his colleagues.

Before rising to high office, he was one of the more competent ministers in the Coalition government.

As treasurer, he put the budget on a path towards returning to balance, and designed the stage one, two and three tax cuts, the latter of which is currently under threat from the Albanese government.

As immigration minister, he succeeded in ending the people smuggler trade by “stopping the boats”.

Mr Morrison, 55, always intended to leave politics after losing the election but has taken time a find a job. Apart from Mr Turnbull, a millionaire, Mr Morrison is the first former prime minister not to be eligible for a parliamentary pension, due to rule changes introduced by John Howard that affected every MP elected from 2004 onwards.

Mr Morrison, a devout Christian, has written a book on faith and politics. Plans For Your Good: A Prime Minister’s Testimony of God’s Faithfulness, will be published on May 21.

The Cook byelection will be the fourth since the election, following Aston and Fadden last year, caused respectively by the resignations of former Liberal ministers Alan Tudge and Stuart Robert.

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