Testy moment Anthony Albanese is hammered with questions about being ‘Airbus Albo’ – as he blames Scott Morrison for one of his flights and boasts about not taking a day off
- Anthony Albanese has been overseas since Sunday on foreign policy trips
- Mr Albanese has spent a third of his time in office – 14 out of 42 days – overseas
- As deadly floods lashed NSW over weekend, many called for him to come home
- But the PM on Tuesday insisted his travels and meetings were essential
A fired-up Anthony Albanese has hit back at criticism he is too focused on international issues after having spent a third of his brief time as Prime Minister overseas.
Mr Albanese was bombarded with questions about his travels when he landed in Perth on Tuesday after a nine-day trip to Europe.
Fending off accusations he was not working hard enough, he insisted: ‘I have not had a day off for a very long period of time.’
Mr Albanese had faced criticism from senior Liberals Dan Tehan and Angus Taylor for being away while deadly floods hit NSW at the weekend, causing thousands of evacuations.
Since winning the election on May 21, Mr Albanese has travelled more than 45,000km overseas
Anthony Albanese disembarks the plane on arrival in Perth after his Europe trip
But Mr Albanese insisted it was essential for him to represent the nation at a NATO summit in Spain and also defended meeting the French and Ukrainian presidents in Paris and Kiev.
‘I attended the NATO summit, which was important. It was important that Australia be represented there,’ he said on the tarmac at Perth Airport.
‘It was important that we deal with the relationship with France and Europe, and I believe that my visit to Ukraine was important to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
‘We cannot separate international events from the impact on Australia and Australians.’
Mr Albanese challenged his critics to say which events he should have skipped.
The Prime Minister, who also went to Tokyo for a leaders’ summit on his first day in office on May 23, blamed Scott Morrison for calling the election so close to that event.
‘I have attended the Quad leaders meeting, the day after the election. It was not a decision of mine to hold the election on May 21, that was a decision of the former Prime Minister.’
He added: ‘People want to argue that I’m not working hard, they can argue their case.’
Mr Albanese was bombarded with questions about his travels when he landed in Perth on Tuesday after a nine-day trip to Europe
Left to right: French President Emmanuel Macron, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, his partner Jodie Haydon and French First Lady Brigitte Macron
Anthony Albanese (pictured with President Zelensky in Ukraine) has been briefed on the deadly flooding in NSW after he copped criticism for being in France and Ukraine while the crisis hit
The Prime Minister has been away since last Sunday on official trips to a NATO leaders’ summit in Spain, a meeting with President Emmanuel Macron in Paris and a high-security trip to Kyiv to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Despite all the trips being official business, some Aussies took to social media to say he should be addressing issues at home instead, as hashtags ‘Airbus Albo’ and ‘Where’s Albo’ trended on Twitter and others labelled him ‘Anthony Overseasy’.
Since winning the election on May 21, Mr Albanese has travelled more than 45,000km on trips to Japan, Indonesia, the UAE, Spain, France, Poland and Ukraine where, on Sunday, he announced a further $100million of Australian taxpayer-funded military aid would be given to Ukraine.
Mr Albanese was briefed by phone soon after clearing war-torn Ukraine on Monday on the situation in NSW, where tens of thousands have been evacuated and thousands of homes deluged.
But shadow immigration minister Dan Tehan said he was ‘too focused’ on international issues and shadow treasurer Angus Taylor said he wasn’t doing enough on floods.
‘It was flooding for 48 hours Luke and [the Prime Minister] has only just picked up the phone to Dominic Perrottet to ask if he needs a hand,’ Mr Taylor told 2GB.
‘There’s 30,000 people who have been told to evacuate their homes but the PM is more concerned about his reputation on the global stage than… making sure people in NSW have a place to sleep.’
Anthony Albanese (pictured in Kyiv) has faced criticism for being overseas while NSW suffers deadly floods – but his supporters defended his absence as he visited war-torn Ukraine