A photo of a smiling Scott Morrison visiting an English pub has elicited a furious response from many Aussies who have been told they are unlikely to travel overseas until at least mid-2022.
Last week the Prime Minister flew to Cornwall in the UK to attend the G7 summit, where he met with leaders from other wealthy democratic nations, including the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Australia is not part of the G7 but was invited as a guest along with India, South Korea and South Africa.
During Mr Morrison’s visit, he and his “20-plus personal team” stopped off at the Jamaica Inn hotel for lunch, with the pub posting a picture of the PM to its Facebook page.
“Pleasure to have the Australian Prime Minister & his 20+ personal team for lunch this weekend. You never know what you might find at Jamaica Inn,” the pub wrote.
Since posting the image the pub’s social media page has been flooded with comments from angry Australians blasting the “double standards” in the country’s international travel ban.
“Looks like a great restaurant! Sadly it highlights the double standards. ScoMo is trying to tell Australians that UK is covid riddled and if it wasn’t for him keeping borders completely shut we would all risk a sure death,” one commenter said.
“Parents according to Scott Morrison (ScoMo) are not considered immediate family in Australia. Many are separated from children, partners, parents and grandparents with no road map from the government when we can see them again. We are not allowed to leave and they are not allowed to come. Yet politicians and celebrities travel freely.”
Another blasted the PM as “ridiculously tone deaf”, while another labelled his actions “utterly offensive and upsetting”.
“I can’t decide if I’m more angry or sad over this post. So many of us would give anything to see our UK families. Where’s the compassion,” one person wrote.
Many questioned why Mr Morrison needed to attend the meeting in person and take a team of more than 20 people overseas when he could have joined in via video call.
“What a lovely tourist photo at taxpayer’s expense while Aussies here continue to be prisoners of this country. I need to beg for a Travel Exemption, what was your excuse? Attending a meeting that could have been done by Zoom or Skype,” one commenter said.
Mr Morrison has continually refused to provide an exact date or target that would allow international travel to resume for Australians.
The only hint Australians have received was in the federal budget which made it clear overseas travel was not expected to return to anything approaching normal until mid-2022.
Australians can apply for a travel exemption to leave the country but these are only granted for a limited number of reasons, including to receive urgent medical treatment, on compassionate grounds, for work, as part of the response to the Covid-19 outbreak or if your travel is in the national interest.
Upon return these people must undergo and pay for a mandatory 14 day hotel quarantine period.
However, unlike most returning Australians, Mr Morrison won’t have to quarantine in a hotel and will be allowed to complete his isolation period at The Lodge in Canberra.
Speaking at a press conference on Sunday, Mr Morrison defended the decision to keep the overseas travel ban in place, saying Australians have many luxuries that other countries dealing with high Covid-19 case numbers don’t.
“What they can do is that they can go to sporting games. They can go to work. They can live in an economy that is bigger today than before,” he said.
“That hasn’t seen the terrible number of deaths that we’ve seen in other parts of the world.”
When asked when Australians would be able to travel overseas again, the PM said: “When the medical advice suggests that we should.”
This isn’t the first time a picture taken Mr Morrison during an overseas trip has sparked backlash.
The PM faced harsh criticism in 2019 when he was photographed relaxing in Hawaii just before Christmas as deadly bushfires raged across NSW and Queensland.
As the fires raged an image appeared on social media of Mr Morrison
with a group of Australian tourists, an idyllic ocean backdrop behind them.
“Not in my wildest dream did I ever imagine I would have the opportunity to share a few bevvies and chat about many things with the Prime Minister of Australia,” the woman who posted it said in the caption.
“Contrary to belief, he’s actually a bit of a legend.”
She added the hashtags #wherethebloodyhellareya and #itsonscomostab.
Mr Morrison was heavily criticised for taking a holiday while large chunks of the country were burning, prompting him to later apologise for the trip.