Prime Minister Scott Morrison has hit back at suggestions he used a diplomatic trip to the UK as an excuse to squeeze in a holiday exploring his ancestry as controversy mounts.
First, the Prime Minister drew the ire of many Australians on social media last weekend when he stopped at the Jamaica Inn in Cornwall while he was in that part of the UK as an observer to world leaders at the G7 summit.
The pub shared a photo of a smiling Mr Morrison with staff on its Facebook page and hundreds of annoyed Australians lamented how they were not able to travel.
On Monday, it was reported Mr Morrison’s office spent weeks planning a G7 side trip to explore his convict family roots despite his own suggestions Britain was too dangerous for Australian travellers.
Mr Morrison reportedly made a pilgrimage to St Keverne, a small village 45 minutes south of Cornwall, where his fifth great-grandfather, William Roberts, was born.
Roberts was sent to Australia as part of the First Fleet for stealing 5½ pounds (2.5kg) of yarn in 1786.
Speaking on 2GB on Monday, Mr Morrison poured cold water on criticism he was taking advantage of an official business trip, claiming both visits were purely on the way to and from airports.
“I wouldn‘t describe it like that at all; we had to land in north of London, as opposed to landing down there in Cornwall, because of the fog and we stopped off along the way, we had some lunch and (then) stopped off in another location on the way,” he told 2GB.
“After the G7, on the way to the airport we stopped in another place, which just happens to be where my fifth great-grandfather was from, so I think that was pretty innocent. I think (the visit being labelled as double standards) is massively overstating it.”
Mr Morrison is now back in Australia, self-isolating in The Lodge and conducting meetings via web conference – including a national cabinet meeting on Monday that will focus on the vaccine rollout.
He said he hoped Australians would be able to travel by Christmas 2022, with the revised target of June 2022 looking less likely as states continue to shut borders to each other and the vaccine rollout stalls.
“I would certainly hope so be it in 202 and I would hope that we can do it as soon as we safely can,” he said.