News Josh Frydenberg defends PM’s appearance at NRL game amid coronavirus pandemic

Josh Frydenberg defends PM’s appearance at NRL game amid coronavirus pandemic

PM Scott Morrison drinking a beer and cheering on the Cronulla Sharks. Photo: AAP
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Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended the Prime Minister’s controversial decision to attend a rugby league game, saying he would have done the same given the opportunity.

Scott Morrison has faced backlash, particularly from locked-down Victorians, for his appearance at the NRL match in Sydney between the Cronulla Sharks and Penrith Panthers on Saturday night.

Mr Frydenberg went so far as to applaud Mr Morrison for going to the game.

“Good on him for being passionate about his country and his footy,” Mr Frydenberg told ABC News Breakfast on Monday.

It came as millions of Victorians spent the first of six weekends at home following some of the state’s highest daily increases in new coronavirus infections.

Speaking to 2GB radio on Monday morning, Mr Morrison himself said he had been “staying very close to everything” despite taking a short break with his family, receiving daily briefings on the coronavirus situation including the Casula cluster in Sydney and the outbreak in Victoria.

“There’s a lot going on at the moment. We’ve got great teams as part of our government, they’re all doing their jobs. I was on the phone with the health minister this morning, the Chief Medical Officer, that will continue and people will see me later on in the week,” the Prime Minister told host Ray Hadley.

“Just because I’m not in front of a camera doesn’t mean I’m not hard on the task.”

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews refused to weigh in on Mr Morrison’s game-day attendance, saying he had better things to do than comment on other people’s free time.

However, a Saturday night tweet from his wife Catherine showed how differently Mr Andrews spent his Saturday.

Mr Morrison’s ability to attend an NRL game merely reflected the fact NSW and Victoria were at different stages of the pandemic, Mr Frydenberg said.

He said he would have gone to sports event had he been in Sydney.

“I’d love to go to watch the [Melbourne] Storm or Carlton football club and just have to travel interstate … to go and see them,” he said.

“The reality is, in NSW you can, or in Queensland, you can go and watch the footy and I think it just reflects the reality that we’re in.”

Mr Frydenberg also said that Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese ” didn’t criticise the Prime Minister”.

“I bet you he would have if he thought there was a political opportunity – and I think that reflects where the public is at,” he said.

Mr Morrison said last week he would take time off this week with his wife Jenny and two daughters over the school holidays.