Australians Split on PM Travel Exemptions, but want PM to live in The Lodge

The Australia Institute surveyed a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Australians between Wednesday 8th September and Friday 10th September, about whether the Prime Minister should be free to travel between Sydney and Canberra, and whether he should live in The Lodge.

Key findings:

  • Australians are split on whether PM Scott Morrison should be granted an exemption to travel between his home in Sydney and work in Canberra, with appropriate safeguards; 44% agree and 45% disagree that the PM should be granted a travel exemption.
  • Three in four Australians (74%) agree that the Prime Minister should live in The Lodge, only 8% disagree. 

“The community is split on the efficacy of the PM’s travel. We actually need to cut politicians a bit more slack, they need to be able to move around the country to do their jobs. The Prime Minister’s job is to run the country, so with the necessary health precautions, he should be able to travel,” said Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute.

“What there is a clear community desire for, is for the PM to live in The Lodge. It is high time for the official residence in Canberra to become the full-time home for all Prime Ministers again. Canberra is the heart and home of our democracy for a reason, and the Prime Minister should treat it as such.

“It seems obvious that the leader of Australia should lead from Australia’s capital, where the public service, the Parliament and the bulk of expertise are all located at the Prime Minister’s service

“ In times of crisis – first the fires, and then during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic – Morrison used Canberra as his base of operations. Menzies made Canberra his home during his entire time as Prime Minister, The Lodge was not just his principal residence but his only home.

“Canberra was built to unite the country, a necessary product of Australia’s Constitution. Deriding Canberra and eschewing The Lodge sends a bad message, to treat the seat of democracy with scorn is to treat democracy with scorn and in these troubled times we need to boost confidence in our democratic institutions, not undermine them.”

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