He got rid of Rudd but needs help to drive out possums

By Jonathan Pearlman

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a staunch Catholic. Photo / AP
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott is a staunch Catholic. Photo / AP

Tony Abbott has delayed moving into Australia's official prime ministerial residence because it is rundown and infested by possums. He will move instead into temporary digs at the national police academy.

The British-born fitness-obsessed Prime Minister-elect will live alongside police recruits in a tiny A$120-a-night ($137) flat with a kitchenette, but is said to be happy because the compound has an excellent gym.

Abbott, who is due to be sworn in as Prime Minister this week after his landslide election win, reportedly rejected an offer to stay in a A$3000-a-night luxury rental.

Australia's official prime ministerial residence, The Lodge, a 1920s colonial-style 40-room mansion in Canberra, was intended to be a temporary lodging until a permanent "monumental" residence was constructed. It is in disrepair and has given successive leaders problems.

Former Prime Minister Julia Gillard once recalled an embarrassing dinner with a foreign leader last year that was interrupted by possum urine dribbling from the roof towards a painting.

"We had a celebrated incident where we had a visiting foreign leader," she told the Sunday Telegraph. "There was much shooing of people out of the dining room because someone spotted wee making its way down the wall to one of the very precious paintings from the National Gallery."

The building is due to undergo extensive repairs for up to a year to fix the wiring, remove asbestos and repair the roof. Abbott will host guests at his parliamentary offices until the repairs are complete.

Abbott, a staunch Catholic, was asked if he planned to move in with his three daughters, who are in their 20s. He replied: "The short answer is, yes, mate, because they don't want to leave until such time as they get married."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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