Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s Unheralded and Unpublished Address to the Australian Christian Churches National Conference, 20th April 2021

Scott Morrison’s Unheralded and Unpublished Address to the Australian Christian Churches National Conference, 20th April 2021

(Transcript by Clare Pascoe, from videos published by vicsantosgonzalez (Instagram) and Vineyard Christian Church [23:20]. Please notify me of any errors via cplistmail at gmail dot com.)

Note1: Flight records show that an RAAF Dessault Falcon 7X jet travelled from Sydney to the Gold Coast and back again that day, at times congruent with having been used by Morrison to get to the event. (Costs are purported to be $4305 per flying hour to operate.)

Note2: Neither official aircraft usage protocols nor government protocols on the format for Acknowledgement of Country were followed, and no transcript of the address has been released by the PM’s office, as would normally be the case.

Note3: The VineyardCC video is indistinct on the first few words, which I have confirmed from the Insta video, but left as part of the VCC transcript for ease of flow.

First quarter-minute from vicsantosgonzalez on Instagram:

My first international visit this year [Laughter] You thought it was going to be New Zealand, didn’t you? [More laughter]

Remainder from VineyardCC video:

Can I start—as is my custom every time I speak, particularly as Prime Minister, I acknowledge our indigenous brothers and sisters who are here tonight, great south land of the Holy Spirit [loud applause] and elders, past, present and future [spoken extremely quickly]. Can I also acknowledge, because I’m sure they’re here, um, any veterans or servicemen and women who are here tonight. I pay honour and respect to them tonight and thank them for their service. [Applause] Can I acknowledge my brothers who are here tonight—Matt and Stuey[1]—um, Matt has recently joined us, after the last election, and it’s wonderful to have him there, ah, joining our band of Christian believers in Canberra joining together regularly, and there’s many more of us, I can assure you, from all different denominations, providing encouragement and fellowship to each other. Can I also acknowledge my very good mate Stuey…um…he and I came to the Parliament together, back in 2007—and Chaddy’s here as well—and he’s been a great brother of mine over a long period of time, and we’ve walked quite a journey together, so I’m so pleased he could be acknowledged here on the Gold Coast tonight.


Can I also, um, give God some glory tonight [applause] in honouring some pretty amazing people who are here, who have had a big blessing on my life and they’re my pastors, Brad and Ally[2] Bonhomme—here they are. [Gesturing to the seats on his left front flank; applause.] Brad and Ally have been marvelous to Jenny and I and the girls, and they took over that job from Mike and Val Murphy, who are here [gesturing similarly; applause], and they’re amazing too. It’s like the ghosts of pastors past, here tonight, because here’s Joel and Julia A’Bell over here [pointing], who we knew when we were in Sydney at Hillsong, and of course we knew Brian and Bobbie[3], and I just pay you honour, mate, and to Bobbie as well. You’re amazing.


I’m sure you’ve heard it said—I remember him saying it—is, what God has put in your hand—you can finish it—is to do what God has put in your heart. I remember when you [looks to his left] said that that night at Homebush and I think that has been a great blessing. ‘Blessed to be a blessing’—that’s another one! [Murmur of agreement] Amazing impact. ‘Best is yet to come’! Is that right? [turns toward where Brian Houston is presumably sitting, then back to the front] That’s right.


I do want to share something with you tonight—a few things that are on my heart. I need your help! I need your help! I remember my late father-in-law…er, Jenny sends her best, by the way. Thank you for your prayers for Jen, particularly most recently. She’s amazing. I’m just thrilled that the rest of the country is getting to work out what I’ve known for a very, very long time[4], and she’s a great blessing, you know. She’s got an amazing heart. The way she’s had, used the opportunity that God has given us, at such a time as this, the way that she has been able to reach out to people and just be a blessing to them and a comfort to them—her heart is as big as it comes, and God has used her there, I think, in great ways, in a political case. But I haven’t come to talk about politics tonight.


The opportunities that have come our way—um, Leila and Danny Abdullah. I don’t know if you know Leila and Danny, who lost their three children when they were run over at Oatlands. Jenny has forged an amazing friendship with her, and, er, and that family and the other families that are affected, and that’s an amazing faith that forgives, and they’ve been a blessing to this country.


So Jenny’s sorry she can’t be with you tonight. But I do need your help. I just…my father-in-law was an amazing Christian. There wasn’t a day that went past when Roy wasn’t in complete wonder about how God saved him. There wasn’t a day. He grew up in, ah, Bondi, when it was a lot tougher than it is today, um, and he had a rough time growing up. He was a bit of a loner, and God reached him through some great, through a great church where he was, and he just lived the rest of his life saying, “I can’t believe how great God has been,” and he would just give thanks every single day. And when I was younger, as I started going out with Jen when I was sixteen, and, um, so I would sit and we’d have discussions, Roy and I, um, and even then, back then, I was interested in things political, and so was Roy, and he’d talk about government, and he’d talk about all this, and he’d get very frustrated with me because I wouldn’t answer all the questions, and I said, “You know Roy, I can’t fix the world. I can’t save the world. We both believe in someone who can.”


And that’s why I’ve come here for your help tonight, because what you do, and what you believe, is the life of faith of our country is what it needs—like him. [Applause] Rabbi Jonathan Sacks—you may know of him; he was the chief rabbi of the synagogue in London, If you haven’t read any of Rabbi Sacks’ work, I strongly encourage you to. He wrote a book just before he died, called Morality. Now, it wasn’t about what you might think. Or, I think, most people, who are outside faith and religions, would think when you say ‘morality’. And he said this in that, he said, “You lose your morality, and you’re in danger of losing your freedom.” He said, “Our rights used to be how we were protected from the state, and now it’s what we expect of it.” He said, “What we once expected from family and community, now we contract this to the state and to the market.”


And he channeled someone else, a famous economist, Friedrich Hayek, Austrian economist: “Freedom has never worked without deeply ingrained moral beliefs.” He was talking about community, and that you can’t replace community with governments, with the market, with other institutions—you can’t! You can’t replace the family, you can’t replace marriage, you can’t replace the things that are so personal, and ingrained, and come out of us as individuals, with systems of power or systems of capital. These are important things, but they can’t replace community. [Murmur of agreement]


And every church—people say to me “what do church do you go to?” I say, “I go to Horizon Church”. I used to be going to ShireLive Church. Uniting Churches, Baptist Churches, Brethren Churches—I’ve always been at a community church. That’s where I want to be—at a church that believes in community and creates community. [Applause] And the essence of community is each individual’s understanding that they’re valued, that they’re unique, that they can respect one another, that they can contribute to one another. We cannot allow what we feel entitled to to be more important than what we’re responsible for. This is very important stuff, that Rabbi Sacks is talking about.


Because he gets it: that the essence of morality is not what others will think it is, about sexuality and all of these issues—of course these things relate to it—but it’s about the dignity and value of each and every human being, and the responsibilities that they have, one to another. Now you cancel out one human being, and you cancel community. Because community is just, is just human beings, who God loves, and is intended to connect us, one to another. Morality is about focusing, not on you, but on the person next to you. It’s about focusing (for me) on you, not me. That is the essence of community. You can’t pass a law for it. You can’t create a building for it. It is, essentially, what springs from each and every one of us.


To him, it’s born of what he likes to call a covenant. And a covenant is agreed particularly in the Old Testament—he tends to read the Old Testament a bit more often than you [gesturing to the pastors on his left; laughter]—he seems to understand it a lot better than many of them. Not Brad[5]; Brad’s great. He’s all over it. [Louder laughter] But he speaks about this in a way—it’s not a transaction, because in a covenant, there are responsibilities. Not just obligations, but responsibilities. There is relationship in covenant, which is what God sought with Israel, in covenant. Deep relationship. It’s personal. It goes beyond. There’s a giving of oneself, the respecting the dignity, the caring together, the sharing of interests, the sharing of lives, the pledging of faithfulness and achieving together what cannot be achieved alone.


A covenant, more than a transaction. Family and marriage, God has created in the same way, to reflect that covenant that we can have. And so I need you to keep building community in this country. I need you to keep doing the things that you do, which allows Australians, both here and wherever you may be—you know, Brad does amazing work up in Papua New Guinea; I know how much he loves going up there, and I’m sure there are many other things that have blessed our Pacific family—there may be some of our Pacific family here, I don’t know, or at least joining us online—but it’s so important that we continue to reach out and let each and every Australian know that they are important, that they are valued, that they are significant, [applause] as we believe that they are made in the image of God, and that in understanding that, they can go on a journey that I’m very confident you can take them on. And I’m relying on you here [looking at the pastors], because that’s not my job, that’s yours.


There are some threats to this, that I want to share with you. There is a fashion, these days to not think of Australians as individuals. There is, particularly I think amongst our young people, and I worry about this. People think of themselves—it’s called identity politics—they think of themselves by the things they can describe in collective with others. These are important things. One’s ancestry, one’s gender, where one’s from. If you’re from the Shire, well, that’s great—you’re starting ahead of everyone else. [Laughter] As they say, prayer in the Shire is a local call. [Groans] That’s Cronulla, for those of you who are not sure what I’m referring to.


But there is a tendency for people not to see themselves, and value themselves, in their own right, as individuals. And to see themselves only defined by some group, and to get lost in that group, and you know, when you do that, you lose your humanity. And you lose your connection, I think, one to each other. And you’re defined by your group, not by—I think, I believe—that God has created you you, and to understand you.


And that’s a big thing going on in our community and our society, and it’s corrosive. It’s absolutely corrosive, and I think it’s, I think it’s undermining community, and I think it’s undermining the self-worth that Australians can have. Because if you’re only defined by what pack you’re in, or what group you’re in, or what group you’ve been, or what box you’re put in, and how others have defined you or sought to define you, either to enlist you to their cause or whatever that might be— Australian need to understand that they themselves, individually and personally, are unique and wonderful. [Applause]


Because you know, if you look at each other not as individuals but as warring tribes, you know, it’s easy to start disrespecting each other. It’s easy to start not understanding the person across from you (and this is important in politics for us, too), that there is a beating heart over there. There is a unique individual with a unique set of issues and challenges and, and opportunities and possibilities, and all of these sort of things, and when you start, stop seeing that, and just see someone as, well, they’re of that view and that group, and well, nah. And that’s why people start writing stupid things on Facebook, and being disrespectful to one another, and we all know that, how that is corroding and desensitising our country, and our society—not just here, but all around the world.


And I think it’s an evil thing. I think it’s a very evil thing, and we’ve gotta pray about it, and we’ve gotta call it out, and we’ve gotta, we’ve gotta raise up spiritual weapons against this, because it is going to take our young people, [applause]  it’s going to take their courage, it’s going to take their hope, it’s going to steal their hope! We’ve gotta pray about that. We’ve gotta pray against that, because it is such a corrosive thing that we’ve seen take place. And sure, social media has its virtues and its values, and it’s made us connect with people in ways we never had before—terrific! Terrific! But, those weapons can also be used by the Evil One, and we need to call it out.


So, this is the help I need from you. I need your help. Keep doing what you’re doing. I need your help to remind Australians how precious they are, and how unique they are. Can I finish with four verses I just wanted to share with you. Can I do that, Brad? Have I got time to do that? [Turning to pastor and back again] Okay. When I ask that question, people always say yes. [Laughter] There will come a time when that will not be true, I guess, but it’s not tonight.


There are a number of things. It’s in 1 Chronicles 13, the four verses I want to share with you in closing. Things that I have learnt while I’ve been Prime Minister, and indeed, long before that. Drawn to 1 Chronicles 13:3. It’s about David, and David said—I’m just trying to find it quickly…Take these [his glasses] off, now I ought to….[pause]…I’ve lost it. 1 Chronicles 3. Anyway, it talks about how, in the time of Saul, they didn’t enquire of the Lord. And it is important for us to enquire of the Lord. And this is how David established, and set up, when he became king.


And all other kings—Saul had not done that—and we know that over the course of Israel’s history, that those who didn’t enquire of the Lord, those who neglected the Lord, those who put what the Lord had put in their heart to one side, then their kingdoms went where they went. And the people followed them where they went. And we all remember what happened when that occurred.


And this is a constant reminder to me, just in my own personal walk—and I’m encouraged by the people I’ve mentioned already tonight, and many more—that it’s something I seek to do. And a lot of people outside this place see—you understand what I’m talking about. It’s not a political thing. Faith is very much an ingrained part of my life, and I just seek His wisdom in the same way you do, each and every day, and it’s important that we do that.


The second one—I like this one—it’s Psalm 23:5, where he talks about preparing a banquet for you in the presence of your enemies. We’ve gotta sit down at that banquet. I sit down at that banquet every, single, day. [Laughter and scattered applause] But that’s where we’re called. He didn’t ask us to sit—He didn’t prepare a banquet for us—in the presence of our greatest admirers and friends, who would tell us wonderful and lovely things, as nice as that is. He said, “I have prepared this banquet for you in the presence…” [Audience responded with “of your enemies.”] “…dining with you, at that table.”  And that is a wonderful reminder to me, each and every day.


I was up at, er, in the Pilbara the other night, and um… Jenny—many, many years ago—got me this lovely little verse, and she put it in a frame so I’d see it each morning, about being strong and courageous, and not being discouraged. Joshua 1:9. There was a young fellow who was up in, he worked at the mines, and he just came up to me—people were all, you know, saying g’day—and he just came up and said, “Joshua 1:9.” And I said, “I’ve got that one.” [Laughter] “I’ve got that one.” And when you read, as we all do, the thing that keeps coming back to me over and over and over again—any of us in leadership understand that—is, yes He’s prepared that banquet, and yes, we enquire of the Lord, BUT you must be strong. You must be courageous. And you must not be discouraged. [Applause]


What I like about it, what I like about that verse is that He knows that we get discouraged. He knows that those who would seek to hold us back would have us be discouraged. So He knows it’s gonna happen. It’s no surprise to Him that we may feel worried. So He said, “Don’t be. Be strong. Be courageous. Do not be discouraged.” And this came home to me importantly, during the last election campaign, and I was up on the Central Coast. I was up there with Jenny. It was a pretty tough week, actually—last couple of weeks of the campaign. And I was at Ken Duncan’s gallery. And I hadn’t, I didn’t know we were going to go to Ken Duncan’s gallery. We were speaking at a rally that day, and we had to go and ‘hold’ somewhere, as we often do before, you know, the next event. And I must admit I was saying to myself, “Lord, where are you? Where are you? I’d like a reminder, if that’s ok.” [Laughter] And, so I walked in—so I didn’t know it was supposed to be at Ken’s gallery, and Ken’s a great Christian guy, as you all know—and I walked into his gallery, and there, right in front of me, was the biggest picture of a soaring eagle, that I could imagine.


Of course, the verse that hit me, about soaring wings of an eagle, run and do not grow weary, walk and will not grow faint. But the message I got that day was, Scotty, you’ve gotta run, to not grow weary; [applause] you’ve gotta walk, to not grow faint; you’ve gotta spread your wings like an eagle to soar like an eagle.


So I hope those few things encourage you. They certainly encourage me and Jenny every day. We are very grateful for the amazing prayers and support that we get from Christians all round the country. It is an avalanche. The letters we get, the support we get, the books that are sent to me—constantly. I can’t tell them to send more books; I’ve got ’em all there, down in Canberra—it’s quite a library that’s building up. People send me verses. They tell me their stories. They, they share things with me; they share things with Jenny. It’s a privilege, it is an absolute privilege, of being in evacuation centres, where people thought I was just giving someone a hug, and I was praying, and putting my hands on people in various places—laying hands on them and praying in various situations. I was just in Kalbarri, where the cyclone has just gone through. And all of these places [[3 indistinct words]]; it’s been quite a time. It’s been quite a time. And God has, I believe, been using us to, in those moments, to be able to cry, to provide some relief and comfort, and just some reassurance.


We’ll keep doing this for as long as, as that season is. That’s how we see it. We are called, all of us, for a time, and for a season, and God would have us use it wisely. And, uh, each day I, I get up, and I move ahead, and there is just one little thing that’s in my head: for such a time as this. For such a time as this.


Opening video –

VineyardCC video –

Flight data –

[1] Matt  [unknown] and Stuart Robert (LNP), the Minister for Employment

[2] Brad and Alison Bonhomme, senior pastors of Horizon Church

[3] Houston.

[4] This appears to be a reference to the public’s highlighting of Morrison’s need to ask his wife’s input on how to treat Brittany Higgins (“just imagine if it were one of your daughters”).

[5] His pastor.