Morrisons open up on kids, faith, marriage
Scott Morrison and his wife Jenny have given voters a rare window into their personal life on the eve of the election.
In an exclusive interview with news.com.au, the Morrisons opened up about their relationship, their faith and the one thing they believe Australians get wrong about the Prime Minister.
"I think they miss his humour," Mrs Morrison said.
"They might not get to his humour, his softer side. Like his girls, you know, they've got him wrapped around their little finger. So people don't get to see that. I think they might find him a bit harder, maybe, because they don't get to know him.
"If everyone got to meet Scott in a pub, they would totally be - he'd just win them over."
"I've been working on that," Mr Morrison joked.
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The Prime Minister has visited a couple of more casual venues, such as sport clubs, while we've been following him around the country this week.
One near Launceston in Tasmania springs to mind -that's where he met J-Rod, whose seven-year-old mullet has since become almost as big a celebrity as Mr Morrison himself.
"When you're in public life, people see you mostly doing your job. Being immigration minister, being treasurer. In those contexts," Mr Morrison added to his wife's answer.
"As a Prime Minister, you get the privilege to have a broader conversation with Australians, and Australians are more interested to know what makes you tick and what fires you up. Because they know that ultimately as a Prime Minister, all those decisions end up on your desk.
"One of the reasons I admire John Howard so much is that his values and his beliefs were so clear. And that always gave Australians, I think, confidence.
"And another prime minister who sadly we've lost in the last 24 hours, Bob Hawke. Bob was someone Australians trusted, because they knew he understood their lives and he appreciated their lives. So I think for a Prime Minister, both of those things are important, and they're a big part of what I'm about.
"We love people. This is why we do what we do."
Mrs Morrison never expected to become Australia's first lady so suddenly. Her husband's ascension to the top job in August of last year was abrupt to say the least. But she has since settled into the role.
"I love meeting Australian people. I love going around with Scott and meeting the most fabulous people. I think that's about the main back of it. I like people," she said.
But there are still aspects of the role that place severe strain on the Morrison family.
"You know, people are away a lot, aren't they? So I get to miss them. The kids miss their dad a little bit," Mrs Morrison said.
"They're handling it really, really well. But they do miss Scott. They want their dad around a little bit more. And that's the life of the campaign trail. It's crazy, it's busy, I'm away a little bit more, and that's been the difference, I think. It's one thing for Dad to be away, but when Mum's away as well ..."
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"It's much harder when's Jen's away. But we seek to, I seek to talk to them each day, and have that connection," Mr Morrison chimed in.
"Our girls have only ever known me in political life, so in some ways that brings a strange sense of normalcy to it for them. But at the same time, in a campaign like this, they for the first time get to see a bit about what we do and why we do it.
"And in terms of Jenny and people, I mean it's just like a magnet. I mean the number of times on the campaign trail we'll be jumping on the bus and I'll say, 'Where's Jen?' and she'll still be back talking to someone in the corner about something or other."
"That's nice," Mrs Morrison said with a humble grin.
One of the most compelling moments of the election campaign happened at the Coalition's campaign launch last Sunday. I'm not talking about the Prime Minister's speech, but rather the video that preceded it, which featured both him and Mrs Morrison.
The pair were unusually upfront about their private life together, joking about Mr Morrison's horrendously "unromantic" marriage proposal and speaking frankly about their 14-year struggle to have a child.
But another crucial part of their identity - their faith - can be a more controversial topic. It inspires some Australians, and worries others. Mrs Morrison told us she was confused by the incessant interest in that aspect of their lives.
"I think it's confusing sometimes to ask why there is an incredible interest in it. It seems like everyone asks every time they get an opportunity," Mrs Morrison added.
"I think if you just want to know sort of what we believe - if you get to see or meet the people that I know, or my acquaintances, or people that I've met throughout the campaign or whatever, out on the street. If they have an opinion of me, I think that would be the best way to judge what we believe, or to see what we believe," she said.
"Your faith is what you live. That's what tells you what we believe," said the Prime Minister.
"I'm really actually quite surprised about it. Because there's so many more things to talk about, but it seems this is the thing that people tend to grab onto. We're not embarrassed about it," Mrs Morrison added.
"That and my obsession with the Sharks," her husband joked.
Mr Morrison said he could understand why Australians were so intrigued by his religious beliefs.
"I do. I do. And that's why as a political figure now for over a decade, I've never hid it. I mean it's not my political agenda, it forms me and Jen and it's been a big part of our lives and our family's lives. And that in so many ways is what motivates us to a life of service," he said.
"That's what, actually, you know, I feel called to. A life of service. And that's what informs it.
"But the policy agenda, I've always ensured that I've focused on the policy agenda being about what's in the national interest of the country, and what I think is best for realising the aspirations of Australians, wherever they live.
"I don't see my faith as a policy textbook. One of the first things I said when I went into the Parliament. But I think it's fair enough for people to know that it's a big part of my life, and it's a big part of our lives, and we're raising our kids in that life."
The obvious counter to this idea that Mr Morrison separates his faith from his politics is the issue of same-sex marriage. The Prime Minister openly wondered why it was still being talked about.
But the postal survey did happen during this term of Parliament. And while Mr Morrison's electorate, Cook, voted in favour of same-sex marriage, he abstained from the final vote in Parliament.
"I said that I wanted to see the issue resolved. And I was part of a government that put in place a process to enable it to be resolved," Mr Morrison said.
"I wanted people to have certainty about this issue. I didn't want this issue to go on forever. In the entire time I'd been in the Parliament, the Parliament had been arguing about this issue.
"I hadn't played any great role in that debate to be honest. It's not something I went into the Parliament to pursue a view on one way or the other. But I did want to see it resolved.
"And remember the previous Labor government. Julia Gillard, they all were there, they had the opportunity to change this and they didn't. They actually voted against it.
"We had a process where Australians got to decide. And I said, if Australians decide that, I will not stand in the way of it, and I didn't. So I acted consistent with my promises, I acted consistent with everything I've always said and done. And it's changed, and I'm glad it's changed, and I'm glad that people now can get on with their lives."
We ended the interview on a slightly less serious note, asking the Morrisons which of their habits annoyed each other.
"Scott's very messy. That drives me insane," Mrs Morrison said.
"I'm pretty untidy around the house," her husband confessed.
"Clothes strewn all over the floor?" we asked.
"Yeah that happens," he said.
"Come on. Pick it up!" Mrs Morrison quipped.
The Prime Minister tried to say his wife had no annoying habits, but she quickly jumped in to quash that myth.
"Oh I know! I can tell you one that he has, yes. That I'm indecisive. I'm very indecisive," Mrs Morrison said.
"We'll be in a restaurant. She'll say, 'Will I have this, will I have this? Will I have this, will I have this?' Jen knows that I can always make decisions," Mr Morrison chimed in.
"That's right. He's very decisive, and it complements my indecisiveness," she said.
"We're a good team," he said.
Mr Morrison was full of praise for her, saying she had "the biggest heart of anyone I know".
"Her capacity to love is amazing, and all of our family, all of our friends, our family, our kids - this is the thing, if you get to know Jen, you get to know what love is. That's what she is. She is just a love machine," he said.
"OK I don't know whether we should be reporting that," she joked, as the PM erupted with laughter.
"But I'm saying it in the right way. I'm sure that'll take off on online," he said.
"It's about the real love of caring for others in a selfless way. That's what Jen's about. And that's the thing that has always just made my life so much richer, to have Jen in it. And to be honest, when you have that overwhelming you all the time, there are no things that irritate. Because it's overwhelmed by everything else."