The prime minister, who? Scott Morrison faces the first test abroad

<pre><pre>The prime minister, who? Scott Morrison faces the first test abroad

SBS Chief Political Correspondent Brett Mason will travel with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in Indonesia. Follow your updates on Twitter and Instagram.

If the Australians are still meeting their prime minister, he is, to be fair, the fifth in five years, it is safe to say that few in Indonesia will have heard of him.

Scott Morrison addresses the world's largest Muslim nation on Thursday as the newest political player in the region. He will attend Friday prayers before talking about free trade with President Joko Widodo at his Bogor palace.

Some locals may know him as the Immigration Minister who launched the policy of "stopping ships," others may wonder why his predecessor was forced to leave office so suddenly, but for most, the only clue to his identity will be his Registered trademark

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is visiting Indonesia.


The trip was destined to Malcolm Turnbull, an aggrieved friend of Mr. Widodo, and would have included visits to three other Asian nations. They have now been canceled.

But it will be the former treasurer who, with barely seven days in the main office, will shake Mr. Widodo's hand in Jakarta and sign a multi-billion dollar free trade agreement with the trail of the deposed prime ministers, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Foreign and trade ministers have spent years negotiating.

"It's certainly not conventional," a member of the still unnamed Prime Minister's Office told SBS News. "But that's ScoMo."

The softer side of the PM

Fly from Sydney to Jakarta on & # 39; Wombat One & # 39; It will be a moment of pride for Mr. Morrison. You can look down to admire the view through Botany Bay, scanning the South Cook Sydney electorate, which you have so fiercely represented since 2007, and the home of your beloved NRL team, the Cronulla Sharks.

It was on the shining sand dunes of the Sutherland Shire that I met Mr. Morrison, when he was a humble opponent of the opposition. Four years after the 2005 Cronulla riots he would join forces with neighboring Labor MP Jason Clare in a & # 39; Mateship Trek & # 39; (an initiative that Mr. Morrison founded) leading young Australians from different backgrounds in the iconic Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea.

I remember the now Prime Minister, with fogged glasses, a soaked shirt, going up and down the towering cliffs of Cronulla's Wanda Beach while laughing while trying – and doing – to keep up with the training of the "clubbies" for his walk .

We talked a lot during the six days in the jungle of Papua, about family, faith and politics.

We cried together while telling the stories of brave young men lost in defense of Australia.

"The Australians are still dying," he would say through tears during his ANZAC Day speech in Isurava. Approximately 625 Australians were killed in the Battle of Kokoda in 1942.

The young hikers, some of them Muslim, opened up and were asked questions about the hijab, riots and racism. And Mr. Morrison spoke fondly about his wife Jenny and daughter Abbey on a visit to a local town.

It was a vision of a man that most have only seen since then as a politician to speak hard, and one who may be about to revisit as a leader.

His first visit to the city of Quilpie in Queensland, devastated by the drought, this week saw him crawling through the park with children from the school, talking about the newest member of the Morrison family: "My girl just got a dog, his name is Buddy, "he said.

Change the first test

Despite their friendship on the walk, Jason Clare, now the Shadow Trade Minister, will follow Scott Morrison's first international visit, like many in Canberra.

"Indonesia and Australia are like two neighbors next door that barely miss the fence," he told SBS News.

"There are approximately 18,000 Australian companies that export to New Zealand at this time and only 2,000 that currently export to Indonesia."

"New Zealand is a country of approximately 4.5 million, Indonesia is a country of approximately 250 million – we have to change this."

The bilateral trade was worth $ 8.5 billion last year, with a deficit of $ 3.5 billion on the Indonesian side, according to Indonesia.

Did Clare surprise the rise of his trekking partner to the prime minister?

"Scott Morrison was a very determined person to recover the Kokoda Track," he said.

"It was obvious at the time that he was determined to get to the best position, and he did."

Clare said free trade negotiations began under former Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who was deposed by the leader she replaced, Kevin Rudd.

"What happened in Canberra last week makes the Australian political system a joke: people in Australia and in Indonesia and around the world are asking, 'What the hell just happened?'" Clare said. "It makes us look like idiots."

"Australians are angry about that and I suspect that people around the world are scratching their heads."

Australian voters often think about how potential leaders will look on the world stage before an election. This week they will know.