Australia Opinion

Scott Morrison: Australia’s Worst Ever Prime Minister?

"He presides over an illiberal government that has been directly responsible for the most appalling violations of basic human rights."

Scott Morrison is supposed to be the federal Liberal Party’s leader. Yet, last year the Prime Minister claimed full credit for Labor’s landslide State election victory in Western Australia (WA), which reduced his party representation in the State Parliament to only two seats.[1]

“This is a resounding victory, an endorsement of [the WA Premier’s] leadership during the course of the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.[2]

On the occasion, Morrison also warned his party colleagues to continue their support for State-imposed measures that objectively violate fundamental human rights, including lockdowns, border closures, and vaccine mandates.[3]

And now the Prime Minister has expressed his support to the WA Premier’s decision to keep the State border closed indefinitely. Asked if he is doing the right thing by keeping the State borders indefinitely closed to the other Australian States, Morrison replied: “Yah I think he did”.[4] 

It is the first time in Australia’s history that a national government supports the end of interstate constitutional freedom of movement, and even the criminalisation of its own citizens for attempting to cross borders and return home. In the name of “health”, Australian politicians can now undermine the federal Constitution and happily implement the most unthinkable and atrocious perversities.

Talking about perversities, from January 31, nobody living in Western Australia is allowed to attend hospitality, entertainment, courtrooms, fitness venues, and aged care facilities, unless they demonstrate proof of vaccination.[5]

To add insult to injury, the WA Premier, Mark McGowan, has resorted to dehumanisation of dissenting voices by calling pro-choice protesters to “grow a brain”, and calling patrons refusing to demonstrate proof of vaccination at venues “dropkicks” — Australian slang for a stupid or worthless person.[6]

One would expect the Prime Minister to object these appalling remarks. Under Morrison’s leadership, however, the Coalition government has acquiesced in the trampling of fundamental legal rights by consistently supporting State-government imposed lockdowns, vaccine mandates, and other arbitrary measures.

Morrison’s support of Daniel Andrews has been particularly revealing, telling the Federal Parliament that it was the “right decision of the Victorian Premier” to impose the longest COVID-19 lockdowns restrictions in the world.

The Prime Minister’s egregious silence following the arrest of Zoe Buhler, a pregnant woman in her pyjamas, in her own home, for daring to question these measures on social media speaks volumes. This attitude is consistent with his past statements on his lack of belief in the importance of free speech in a thriving liberal democracy.

Surely we should expect the leader of a supposed democratic government to be interested in protecting human rights, not suppressing them. Instead, we get this spineless guff: ‘Daniel Andrews has my full support … I will give him every support he needs’. Offering such enthusiastic support to the draconian measures of the Premier of Victoria is, according to Morrison, ‘the only thing that matters’.[7]

The Prime Minister is also on the record for stating that he is unconcerned about ongoing attacks on free speech, because, in his opinion, “free speech does not create a single job”.

Well, his support for measures by the State governments that can only destroy the economy is certainly not going to create a single job either, at least not in the productive sector. To the contrary, this connivance will lead to inevitable economic disaster and more unemployment.

When you look at its record, Morrison is presiding over a government that is effecting violating the rule of law and undermining fundamental legal rights. As stated by Morgan Begg, a Research Fellow at the Institute of Public Affairs, “the Coalition government is trashing fundamental legal rights of all Australians, creating unprecedented challenge to individual freedom and human dignity,”[8]

As our longest-serving Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, said prophetically:

We need constantly to remind ourselves that democracy can produce tyranny just as readily as any other system of government unless the individual democrat has learned to attach supreme importance to individual freedom.

Should the Coalition lose the next federal election, the Prime Minister will have no one to blame but himself. He presides over an illiberal government that has been directly responsible for the most appalling violations of basic human rights.  Surely that puts Scott Morrison in the unenviable position as the worst ever Australian Prime Minister, which as a constitutional law academic I can say so quite confidently.

Augusto Zimmermann is Professor and Head of Law at Sheridan Institute of Higher Education in Perth, WA. From 2012 to 2017, he served as a Law Reform Commissioner in Western Australia. Co-authored by Emeritus Professor Gabriël A. Moens AM, Professor Zimmermann’s latest book is entitled Emergency Powers, COVID-19 Restrictions & Mandatory Vaccination – A Rule-of-Law Perspective (Connor Court Publishing, 2022).


[1] Michael Traill, ‘Prime Minister Scott Morrison Claims Credit for Premier Mark McGowan’s landslide State Election Victory’, The West Australian, 15 April 2021, at https://thewest.com.au/politics/scott-morrison/prime-minister-scott-morrison-claims-credit-for-premier-mark-mcgowans-landslide-state-election-victory-ng-b881847847z

[2] Philip Coorey, Julie-Anne Sprague and Brad Thompson, ‘PM Shrugs Off WA Liberal Wipeout’, Australian Financial Review, March 14, 2021, at https://www.afr.com/politics/pm-shrugs-off-wa-liberal-wipeout-20210314-p57akw

[3] Philip Coorey, Julie-Anne Sprague and Brad Thompson, ‘PM Shrugs Off WA Liberal Wipeout’, Australian Financial Review, March 14, 2021, at https://www.afr.com/politics/pm-shrugs-off-wa-liberal-wipeout-20210314-p57akw

[4] Daniel Khmelev, ‘Unvaccinated Lawyers Locked Out Of Courts, Unable to Fight Mandates in Western Australia’, The Epoch Times, February 1, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/unvaccinated-lawyers-locked-out-of-courts-unable-to-fight-mandates-in-western-australia_4249239.html

[5] Daniel Khmelev, ‘Unvaccinated Lawyers Locked Out Of Courts, Unable to Fight Mandates in Western Australia’, The Epoch Times, February 1, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/unvaccinated-lawyers-locked-out-of-courts-unable-to-fight-mandates-in-western-australia_4249239.html

[6] Daniel Khmelev, ‘Unvaccinated Lawyers Locked Out Of Courts, Unable to Fight Mandates in Western Australia’, The Epoch Times, February 1, 2022, at https://www.theepochtimes.com/unvaccinated-lawyers-locked-out-of-courts-unable-to-fight-mandates-in-western-australia_4249239.html

[7] Natalie Oliveri, ‘PM Says Victoria’s Premier Has His Full Support to Tackle State’s Coronavirus Crisis’, Today Channel 9. <https://9now.nine.com.au/today/coronavirus-australia-scott-morrison-says-daniel-andrews-has-full-support-victoria/fd460c9a-db46-408f-82d2-a6e82ef3b865>

[8] Morgan Begg and Kristen Pereira, ‘Legal Rights Audit 2019’, Institute of Public Affairs, Melbourne/Vic, February 2020, p 1.