Scott Morrison has fobbed off continued criticism of his secret family tour of Britain, describing it as “pretty innocent” – despite publicly deeming the United Kingdom too risky for everyday Australians to visit.
Speaking on 2GB radio Monday morning, the Prime Minister rejected claims that his stop-offs were an example of “double standards”.
But his excuses have fallen short for many Australians kept apart from their families due to the government’s closed international border policy – especially off the back of his Cornish ‘pub tour’ last week.
Alice Wigley, a permanent resident desperate to see her mother in the UK, slammed the Mr Morrison’s family tour as “tone deaf”.
“Of course everyone’s going to be upset,” she told The New Daily.
“He’s doing it while we’re not allowed to.”
Mr Morrison was in Britain for the G7 Summit last week when he took a pre-planned side trip to explore his family’s roots.
The PM arrived back in Australia in time to tune into Parliament via videolink from home quarantine on Monday.
Mr Morrison dropped another painful tidbit during his radio interview, suggesting Australians might not be able to freely leave the country until Christmas 2022.
That’s six months later than his previous timeline of mid-next year.
“We know that this Christmas is most likely off the cards, but is there also a chance that we won’t be able to fly by next Christmas 2022?” 2GB radio host Ben Fordham asked.
“I would certainly hope so, Ben, in 2022, I’d certainly hope so,” Mr Morrison replied.
‘It’s unfair he gets to have that luxury’
Ms Wigley, 33, lives in Perth, Western Australia after migrating from Britain a decade ago.
Recently pregnant with her second child, she sustained a herniated disc in her back and now lives with chronic nerve pain.
With her fly-in-fly-out employed husband is due to return to work and Ms Wigley has been begging the federal government to let her mother fly to Australia to help in his absence.
So far, her applications have been declined – and her mental health has deteriorated.
Hearing that the Prime Minister took the chance to explore his convict roots while in Britain was “upsetting”, she said.
“It’s unfair he gets to have that luxury when he’s got residents and citizens needing help and support, and not being granted it,” Ms Wigley told TND.
“It’s great for him, but it’s hard to see when there are lots of people wanting to do the same thing – go and see family.”
Ms Wigley is among a group of families lobbying the Morrison government to change the hard border rules so loved ones can be reunited.
Anger from all angles
Adding to criticism of Mr Morrison was Labor’s home affairs spokeswoman Kristina Keneally.
“In November, I said good bye to my dying father on Zoom & haven’t yet visited his grave in the USA,” she tweeted.
“A secret trip to visit UK relatives who died 200 years ago. One rule for Scott….”
Conservative commentator Janet Albrechtsen expressed similar outrage.
A friend of mine was knocked back first time for exemption to travel to UK for his Mum’s funeral on Friday. He’s waiting to hear after second application. And PM goes to pubs in UK and searches family roots. This is wrong.
— janet albrechtsen (@jkalbrechtsen) June 20, 2021
On Tuesday, Greens senator Nick McKim is due to move a motion in the Senate calling on the Morrison government to start reuniting families and partners who have been torn apart by the border closure.
As of May 28, 35,128 Australians stranded overseas have expressed their willingness to return to Australia, according to Senate estimates.