Sunday was Father's Day in Australia—and Prime Minister Scott Morrison is taking flak for traveling to visit his family when more than half of the country is in lockdown. Morrison traveled from Canberra to New South Wales state, where his wife and two daughters live in Sydney, and was able to return to the capital Monday without the standard 14-day quarantine because of an exemption granted to lawmakers, the New York Times reports. New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory are both under strict lockdowns and travel between Australian states has been severely restricted. Some families separated by restrictions met Sunday at a plastic barricade that separates Queensland and New South Wales.
Morrison was strongly criticized by opposition lawmakers including former Labor Party leader Bill Shorten, who accused him of "appalling judgment," the Guardian reports. "It’s not that he doesn’t deserve to see his kids but so does every other Australian," Shorten said. "And I think that when your people are doing it tough, you’ve got to do it tough." Capital Territory chief minister Andrew Barr, another Labor member, said the trip was "not a particularly good look."
Morrison was also slammed online, with one critic on Twitter saying there was " one rule for all the other dads separated by border closures and one rule for the PM," per the Times. The prime minister has spent most of the last few months in Canberra but he is still officially a Sydney resident.
Morrisson accused Shorten and other critics of "cheap politics" and said he was no different from other essential workers who need to travel for work, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. "The government still needs to function. And we return home when we’re able to return home," he said Tuesday. "That hasn’t happened that often this year, I’ve got to tell you, but that’s the nature of the job and we all accept that." (Read more Australia stories.)