Mon, Jun 11, 2012 - Page 4 News List

Possums help to drive Julia Gillard out from her home

AFP, SYDNEY

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to move out of her official residence in Canberra, in part due to some bad-mannered possums that have made their home in the roof of her home.

It has been known for some time that Gillard and partner Tim Mathieson would have to move out of The Lodge, which is more than 80 years old, as it undergoes vital repairs, including the removal of dangerous cloth wiring and asbestos.

However, Gillard revealed yesterday that the urgency of the renovations were made clear after an unnamed foreign official had to be rushed out of one room after the possums’ lack of toilet training became obvious.

“We had a celebrated incident where we had a visiting foreign leader, so you put dinner on for them,” Gillard said in an interview with the Sunday Telegraph.

“There was much shooing of people out of the dining room in a way that looked — it wasn’t rudely done, but it was because someone had spotted that wee was making its way down the wall to one of the very precious paintings from the National Gallery,” Gillard said.

Government officials last year announced that the 40-room Georgian revival-style mansion would undergo a major renovation to fix the leaking roof, redo the electrical wiring and remove asbestos.

Gillard said she was unconcerned about her upcoming move and that she would consider living in her Sydney harborside residence, Kirribilli, when parliament was not sitting, but where she will stay in Canberra once renovations begin toward the end of the year is not known.

“The dudes who do things like that, they think about security issues, they have a tribe working on it,” the prime minister said.

The Lodge was built in 1927 as a temporary residence but plans to build a permanent prime ministerial home have never progressed.

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