Prime Minister Scott Morrison has defended his decision to fly back home to Covid-stricken Sydney over the weekend to celebrate Father’s Day.
Reports circulated on Tuesday morning that the prime minister left Canberra on Friday afternoon to be with his family at The Lodge in Sydney over the Father’s Day weekend, returning to the nation’s capital city on Monday.
Politicians are classed as essential workers, which grants them exemptions and freedom of movement. However, as Sydney is still struggling to contain the virus and is considered a hot spot, a two-week quarantine is required upon arrival. Kerryn Coleman, chief health officer of the ACT, granted an exemption for the prime minister subject to strict level 3 stay at home orders which require frequent testing and restricted movement throughout the ACT, so that he could be back in Canberra for a national security meeting and the women’s safety summit.
However, the move was met with heavy criticism, with Labor frontbencher Bill Shorten accusing the PM of “poor judgement”.
“I was a bit surprised when I read he had done this, to be honest,” he said on the Today show on Tuesday morning. “It’s not that he doesn’t deserve to see his kids but so does every other Australian. And I think that when your people are doing it tough, you’ve got to do it tough, too.
“I know for a lot of MPs when we leave Canberra we’ve got to spend two weeks locked down away from our families. So I just don’t know how he was able to get a permit when most people can’t.”
Speaking on Sky News hours later, Morrison defended his trip, saying there had been a lot of “misinformation” about it. The prime minister explained that he was needed in Canberra and it was part of the job to go backwards and forwards.
When asked about Shorten’s comments, the prime minister labelled it a “cheap shot”. “Well it’s a bit of a cheap shot to be honest,” he told Sky News.
“I mean Bill knows full well what these rules are … in fact he took advantage of them. He went home and spent the last three weeks there rather than being in parliament.
“Bill knows that. Bill knows the prime minister needs to go backwards and forwards between these places to do the work. He understands that secure documents, secure discussions need to be held. So he understands all of that. So frankly it’s a bit of a cheap shot. It’s just cheap politics.”