Federal Politics

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Lodge refurbishment delayed

Julia Gillard has a history of rotten luck with renovations, and it seems to be continuing.

Ms Gillard, whose dissatisfaction with the workmanship of Bill, ‘‘a big Greek bullshit artist,’’ was revealed through reporting this year of her involvement in the AWU affair, has just learned that long-planned work on her official Canberra residence will be put off until late next year.

In a 1995 interview with a senior partner and general manager of the law firm Slater and Gordon, Ms Gillard detailed her frustration with Bill – a union organiser from Western Australia whose real name was Vassilis Telikostoglou – who failed to complete the tiling of the veranda of her Abbottsford house, defied her instructions by installing aluminium sliding windows and taking the initiative of erecting a ‘‘truly hideous’’ low brick fence.

It’s not known how she reacted to the letter from Special Minister of State Gary Gray advising her that the refurbishment project, which was to start in April, will be put off until the end of 2013, because initial investigations revealed the work was likely to run into ‘‘significant technical challenges’’.

‘‘Research and investigations conducted by the architects and the age and condition of the building mean that the refurbishment and conservation works are likely to encounter significant technical challenges,’’ Mr Gray said in a statement.

‘‘Subsequently, it has become apparent that the refurbishment project will take longer to complete than originally anticipated.’’


‘‘It is important to preserve the iconic heritage values of The Lodge for future generations. However, the health and safety of residents, visitors and staff is paramount.’’

‘‘I have decided the sensible and practical thing to do is to defer these renovations,’’ he said.
The planned works include replacement of the slate tile roof and 1920s cotton-covered electrical wiring, the removal of potentially hazardous asbestos and the repair of leaky and rusty plumbing.

Mr Gray said he had also written to opposition leader Tony Abbott to advise him of his decision to defer the work.

The Lodge has been the primary official home of Prime Ministers since 1927. It is regularly used to host Australian and foreign dignitaries as well as charity functions.