Morrison braves himself for another battlefield

Scott Morrison's successful stint as Immigration Minister has made him a prime contender for the top defence job, but he must stand his ground amid fire from critics.

Scott Morrison may be unpopular in various parts of the community, but he has been the standout ministerial success story in terms of delivering on the Coalition election promises. Stopping the boats for more than 100 days so early in the government's term went far beyond Australian community expectations. 

The vast majority of the community believes that maintaining sovereignty of borders is essential in defining nationhood, and that in the Rudd-Gillard years Australia fell victim to commercial interests in Indonesia penetrating our borders for profit.

Both parties now agree, but it took a minister of Morrison’s calibre to take personal attacks from the vocal minority on the chin and do the job Australians elected him to do.

Morrison is now being earmarked for the defence portfolio, but before he leaves immigration, he has one more vital task: to make sure that all those who have come to Australia on 457 visas and who have performed well (and who want to stay) are given the chance to do so.

As the mining investment boom subsides, there will mining contractors who brought them out who no longer need a large number of highly skilled people.

Those who have done well will make excellent migrants. The current migration program of around 190,000 people a year is high cost because a large number of those who come require assimilation and training. Those who have been working under 457 visas are ‘ready to go’ and require much lower outlays and have a better chance of a success.

But just as there are groups of people who did not understand the importance of border sovereignty, there will be many who prefer the current migrant mix. It will require a minister who is proven to be able to take the personal attacks on the chin to make the change.

And if he becomes Defence Minister, Morrison will not take into the role the baggage of connections to suppliers of the Joint Strike Fighter.

Morrison will be told by defence chiefs that the JSF has brilliant software, and that the software is so good that the JSF will never have to fight one-to one the superior Russian-Indian-Indonesian plane or the Chinese equivalent.

Morrison is smart enough to know that this is military nonsense akin to those who wanted the commercial trafficking of people to continue.

Morrison will also discover that although the JSF’s base problem is that it is the wrong shape for what Australia needs. The US has a plane, the F22, which us the right shape, but needs to recommence production and be boosted by the JSF software developments.

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