Sophie Morris

is The Saturday Paper’s chief political correspondent.

By this author


News November 28, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull battles parliament division and twin cliques

Turnbull may be cruising ahead in the polls but it’s not all smooth sailing as the PM navigates a messy senate and internal tensions.

News November 21, 2015

Port of Darwin’s Chinese sale surprises US

Do US concerns over the sale of the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company suggest those who question foreign investment on strategic and security grounds have a point?

News November 14, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull gives up on his beloved republic

Once the nation’s most prominent republican, Malcolm Turnbull is now content to let Labor steal the debate’s lead.

News November 07, 2015

Bill Shorten’s life with a 17 per cent approval rating

With an appalling approval rating, but protected by Labor’s leadership rules, Bill Shorten must persuade the public he’s a man of ideas.

News October 31, 2015

Turnbull and Morrison: the Coalition’s new power pact

With an alliance redolent of the Hawke–Keating era, the compact between Turnbull and Morrison is key to the government’s fortunes.

News October 24, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull versus the Coalition’s social conservatives

For the new prime minister, it’s time to keep his enemies close and the conservatives closer.

News October 17, 2015

Inside Turnbull’s media strategy

In an attempt to slow the media cycle, Turnbull has borrowed from US presidents: speak only from a podium, and only on big issues.

News October 10, 2015

The next phase of the refugee debate

As a mother and her baby daughter test the legality of offshore detention, Peter Dutton looks to the possibility of a ‘Philippines Solution’.

News October 03, 2015

The Arthur Sinodinos-Malcolm Turnbull plan for the Coalition

It was not just his popularity that won Malcolm Turnbull the leadership. There was also a long-running plan to reboot policy.

News September 26, 2015

NSW Greens see red over Lee Rhiannon sidelining

A perceived snub to Lee Rhiannon has sparked a fresh storm for the Australian Greens.

News September 26, 2015

Malcolm Turnbull: just a humble cabinet-maker

Balancing enemies and allies, Malcolm Turnbull’s cabinet lays the groundwork for reform while holding the party together.

News September 19, 2015

End of an error: How Turnbull triumphed

After a long campaign to woo shock jocks and conservatives, Malcolm Turnbull has beaten Tony Abbott with the promise of rebuilding the Liberals’ ‘broad church’.

News September 12, 2015

How Syria changed the refugee debate

The extraordinary crisis in Europe has thoroughly reshaped the language and terms of the refugee debate in Australia.

News September 05, 2015

Shorten politicising the China free trade deal

As unions attempt to discredit the trade deal with China, Bill Shorten must carefully weigh its post-byelection benefits.

News August 29, 2015

China’s share plunge shatters Joe Hockey’s tax reform plan

While Treasurer Joe Hockey rails against bracket creep, the eyes of the world are focusing on the faltering Chinese economy.

News August 22, 2015

Canning heat for Abbott in byelection

For Tony Abbott, the outcome of next month’s byelection in WA is likely to decide if he sinks or swims as prime minister.

News August 15, 2015

Liberty the loser in the modern-day Liberal Party

Liberalism and the Liberal Party are becoming mutually exclusive, as Tony Abbott digs in over same-sex marriage and climate policy.

News August 15, 2015

Detention centre doctors stare down prosecution

Doctors who have worked in immigration detention show no sign of being silenced, despite the possible prosecution of those who speak out.

News August 01, 2015

Millions at risk in Mathias Cormann’s govt travel contract

Amid the travel expenses furore, the government stands to lose tens of millions of dollars on a decision to switch to a single travel manager.

News July 25, 2015

Asylum seekers and leadership head ALP National Conference

Asylum-seeker policy may dominate debate at this weekend’s ALP conference, but an underlying theme is who’ll take the leadership reins post-Shorten.

News July 04, 2015

Senator Ricky Muir’s new-found confidence

One year into his senate stint, Ricky Muir has developed into a confident speaker, a popular figure with unions and someone the ALP could eye as a future candidate.

News June 27, 2015

Tony Abbott rises from the ashes in election run-up

From a ‘near-death experience’ in February to preparing the Coalition for the next election, it seems Tony Abbott may be an old dog with new tricks.

News June 20, 2015

Abbott government weakens FOI and public service disclosure

Shutting down the office of the information commissioner is the latest gambit in the Abbott government’s quest to avoid scrutiny.

News June 13, 2015

Blowing up Australia’s housing affordability bubble

Inside the government’s attempts to control the conflicting ‘narratives’ on housing prices – and the plans to address the bubble.

News June 06, 2015

Citizenship-stripping and Abbott’s jihad on civil rights

The practical results of revoking citizenship are yet to be seen, but the threat has already served its purpose in the party room.

News May 30, 2015

Richard Di Natale’s plans to reboot the Australian Greens

The Greens’ new leader has a fresh vision for the third-force party: transparent, consultative and mainstream.

News May 23, 2015

Hockey’s changed song on budget

From ‘debt and deficit disaster’ to ‘go out and spend’, is the government playing a reckless game with the national economy?

News May 16, 2015

The mixed messages of Hockey’s budget

In a budget marked by confusion, the government’s hunt for ‘unfairness’ has made enemies of key constituents.

News May 09, 2015

Milne, Di Natale and Greens’ deliberate leadership coup

A week ago, Christine Milne’s camp was pushing stories of a new strategy. By Wednesday, she was announcing her resignation.

News May 09, 2015

Scott Morrison’s kid gloves on upcoming childcare reform

Missed opportunities to improve childcare have blighted both Coalition and Labor governments. Can Scott Morrison’s plans for sweeping reforms finally provide a grown-up solution?

News May 02, 2015

Factions jockeying over key ALP policies

Ahead of the ALP’s national conference, the party’s factions are manoeuvring on metadata, climate change, same-sex marriage – and the future leadership.

News April 25, 2015

Aust emissions pressure builds ahead of Paris climate pact

Australia’s weak commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions is raising eyebrows around the world.

News April 18, 2015

Abbott government plans to be rid of senate ’ferals’

Tony Abbott has a gun pointed at the senate: a chance to fix preference systems that advantage minor parties, then rush to a double dissolution.

News April 11, 2015

Universities Australia, Clean Energy Council’s lobbying lessons

It’s a high-stakes gamble for industry groups to support unpopular government policy if the senate objects, as the experience of university chiefs shows.

Life April 04, 2015

Sophie Morris on facing the bitter blow of miscarriage

Why openness, pragmatism – and maybe some ice-cream – are the best ways to deal with the pain of miscarriage.

News March 28, 2015

Pressure builds on same-sex marriage for Libs and ALP

Same-sex marriage got as close as it has been to breakthrough in the Coalition party room this week, but was spooked by the budget.

News March 21, 2015

Rupert Murdoch’s fresh media war with Malcolm Turnbull

The leaking of media reforms has enraged News Corp and left the impression Turnbull is trying to wedge Abbott.

News March 14, 2015

Tony Abbott’s affinity with ADF reflected in parliament

The red and green houses of parliament are being tinged with khaki as an increasing number of former defence force personnel enter politics.

News March 07, 2015

Tony Abbott stakes leadership future on 2015 budget

With his spot at the top seeming safe for the moment, Tony Abbott will pin his hopes of long-term survival on keeping households happy.

News February 28, 2015

Plotting the anti-Tony Abbott forces

After weeks of mutinous destabilisation by backbenchers, the fate of the prime minister is now in the hands of his cabinet ministers.

News February 21, 2015

Searching for Bill Shorten’s promised year of ALP ideas

Labor promised to be defined this year by their ideas. So where are they?

News February 14, 2015

Julie Bishop’s long play moves to old mate Malcolm Turnbull

Julie Bishop finds herself in a unique position: pointedly wedged between two rivals and ready to decide the future of both.

News February 07, 2015

Mal content to wait his turn

Turnbull is in pole position to replace the prime minister. But how has he overcome doubts within the Coalition?

Business February 07, 2015

Power games in the electricity industry

The tax arrangements keeping electricity prices high.

News January 31, 2015

What’s happening in Tony Abbott’s office?

Leadership tension has spilled into the Nationals, as the Coalition tries to understand the chaos in the Prime Minister’s Office.

News January 24, 2015

Medicare reform plans adrift

The AMA’s criticism of proposed changes to Medicare highlights the government’s need to lengthen its own consultation times.

News December 13, 2014

David Morrison breaking the brass ceiling in the ADF

While David Morrison is making headway on women’s recruitment and promotion in the army, the ‘band of brothers’ culture persists.

News December 06, 2014

Senate defeat for Pyne’s education reforms

The education minister’s bullishness in defeat of his university reforms epitomises the government’s struggles in the senate.

News December 06, 2014

The Murray-Darling up the creek

The government spent billions buying water from farmers to save the Murray-Darling, but there’s now a push to sell water back.

News November 29, 2014

Scott Morrison wants to snatch courts’ powers over immigration and citizenship

The minister is seeking to hugely extend his discretion to determine citizenship, visas and asylum.

News November 22, 2014

Labor rallies crossbench senators over FOFA reforms

A change of heart over financial advice regulations has exposed holes in the Coalition’s senate strategy.

News November 15, 2014

Nats ready to turn on Abbott

While the Liberals court Clive Palmer, overlooked Nationals are threatening revolt from within.

News November 08, 2014

Pushing the budget

The government is throwing everything at an obstreperous senate to push through its unpopular budget measures.

News November 01, 2014

Greens’ hornet’s nest

Christine Milne is risking trouble within Greens ranks as she bids to rebuild the party’s base.

News November 01, 2014

PUP senator Jacqui Lambie: ‘I will get up and leave’

The Palmer United senator regrets legislation her party is passing and fears it has already lost its way.

News October 25, 2014

ALP plans to temper Brandis security powers

Labor is working on a plan to force oversight onto the national security legislation it waved through.

News October 18, 2014

Nick Xenophon’s ploy to price carbon

By extending a lifeline to Direct Action, independent senator Nick Xenophon may yet sneak in a carbon price.

News October 11, 2014

The government’s multicultural guardian

As Coalition figures drum up fears of Muslim extremism, Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is trying to reassure a community at the crossroads.

News October 04, 2014

Brandis welshes on terror talks with Leyonhjelm

A late-night meeting between David Leyonhjelm and the attorney-general offered brief hope for compromise on security legislation.

News September 27, 2014

Internal discord dogs PUP and major parties

The focus on national security can dull dissent in political debate, but it still exists in both major parties and the PUP.

News September 20, 2014

David Johnston’s making as a defence minister

The mixed reputations of David Johnston and Julie Bishop rest on the success of our military operations in Iraq.

News September 13, 2014

Labor’s higher education hopes

The ALP believes it can capitalise on fears the government’s cuts to higher education will put university out of the reach of many families.

News September 06, 2014

The short march to another war

In the past month, the emerging ‘Abbott doctrine’ has put Australia on a war footing.

News August 30, 2014

Politics’ hidden millions in party favours

Loopholes in disclosure laws are allowing major donations to be funnelled into parties via an elaborate network of forums and sponsorships.

News August 16, 2014

Abbott’s piss and wind power on renewable energy

Irrespective of the Warburton review’s findings, the uncertainty Tony Abbott has created is killing the green energy sector.

News August 09, 2014

George Brandis’s political crusades win him no fans

An outsider during the Howard years, George Brandis is at the centre of this government, and at the centre of its follies.

News August 02, 2014

Nationals urge tougher tactics as Clive Palmer plays centre

With Clive Palmer and a handful of backroom advisers calling the senate shots, some Nationals have decided it’s time to ‘muscle up’.

News July 26, 2014

Security council ties that bind

The pragmatic approach and active diplomacy of Australia’s UN ambassador are paying huge dividends in the wake of MH17.

News July 19, 2014

Faulkner expects state conference defeat on party reform

Labor stalwart John Faulkner knows his call to empower party members will send the NSW state conference into chaos and splinter his own Left faction. He also knows it’s essential.

News July 12, 2014

You’re terrible, Muir et al...

Ricky Muir’s in Canberra, keeping a diary, and getting what he wants. Already, he’s more serious than anyone thought.

News July 05, 2014

George Brandis’s creeping spy powers

The attorney-general is exploiting fear of returning holy fighters to push through ASIO’s long-sought powers.

News June 28, 2014

Goring the tax

An inconvenient alliance has added fuel to Clive Palmer’s mysterious machinations regarding climate change legislation.

News June 21, 2014

John Williams, Ian Macdonald, Cory Bernardi: enemies within

All eyes are on the PUP senators-elect but the government is bracing for dissent from its own.

News June 14, 2014

Clive Palmer’s bold bid to build his senate bloc

With the upper house balance of power soon in his grasp, the PUP leader has approached senators Xenophon and Madigan to join his bloc.

News June 07, 2014

Tony Abbott’s global retreat

As the PM sets off to meet world leaders, his government is withdrawing the nation from international affairs.

News May 31, 2014

What’s eating the Greens?

Support for the Greens fell drastically at the last election, and their party room is divided, but the power they will wield in the new senate is significant.

News May 24, 2014

Is this budget proposal for the good of our health?

Amid the rancour over last week’s federal budget, the government’s proposed medical research fund has drawn one unlikely high-profile supporter.

News May 24, 2014

DLP senator John Madigan happy to be the family guy

As one of eight crossbench senators set to wield enormous power come July, Ballarat’s John Madigan is ready to stand and be counted.

News May 17, 2014

Motor lobby to fight budget’s highway robbery

Interest groups emerge at budget time to take the government to task. Joe Hockey’s fuel excise increase finds the motorist lobby gearing up for a fight.

News May 10, 2014

Cracks in PM Abbott and Treasurer Hockey’s deficit levy

Blame laying and calls for heavy lifting aside, it’s time for Joe Hockey to take ownership of the economy.

News May 03, 2014

PUP to fight Pyne’s uni funding cuts

Student resistance to Christopher Pyne’s plan to allow universities to raise their fees will find an unlikely champion in Clive Palmer’s senate bloc.

News April 26, 2014

Inside Bill Shorten’s party war room

Despite a quiet start to opposition, Labor has a plan to win back government, and it relies on one man: Tony Abbott.

News April 19, 2014

Rudd’s long plot to replace Ban Ki-moon

From the moment he lost power, Kevin Rudd began work on his biggest project yet: a pitch to become UN secretary-general.

News April 12, 2014

Federal Labor’s next generation

With the fresh wounds of the rerun WA senate election adding to the pain of last year’s federal rout, a new crop of Labor MPs have a unique chance to redefine their ailing party.

Politics April 05, 2014

Minor-party senators need deft negotiation

The government’s agenda hinges on the crossbench from the WA senate election re-run. A report on its poor attempts to negotiate.

News March 29, 2014

Abbott’s regal honours plan sparks new republican debate

The prime minister’s surprise revival of knights and dames comes amid rumblings from the Coalition’s sons of monarchy.

News March 29, 2014

Barry O’Sullivan replaces Barnaby Joyce in the senate

You can count on Queensland to keep federal parliament interesting. Meet the state's newest straight-talking senator and self-confessed trouble-maker.

News March 15, 2014

Abbott government’s uneasy dealings with China

After an initial fumble, and an angry rebuke, the government is preparing to offer Chinese business more than just a free trade agreement.

News March 08, 2014

Hockey’s inner cabinet strives to rein in Abbott on economy

“At one point in time, we dries were in a niche and were trying to drag the party in that direction. We’re now mainstream and Tony Abbott is pushing us to the extreme.”

News February 28, 2014

Government considers PBS cutbacks

Will the Abbott government adopt harsh recommendations to stem the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme’s bleeding?

News February 28, 2014

Rudd’s backbench role in the Manus Island crisis

The death of Reza Barati last week had its beginnings on the Labor backbenches, where Kevin Rudd was plotting his return as leader.