THE deferral of the refurbishment of The Lodge until after the election may make it easier for Tony Abbott to make his base in Sydney if he becomes prime minister.
Special Minister of State Gary Gray announced the extensive renovations would be put off until the end of next year. The replacement of the slate roof of the heritage-listing building, which has been the primary official home of prime ministers since 1927, was due to start in April. But Mr Gray said it was now clear that the project would take longer than thought.
Like John Howard, Mr Abbott is believed to prefer to have his main home in Sydney. Mr Howard used The Lodge only when he was in Canberra for Parliament or official functions. He originally wanted to live in his Sydney family home but that was too difficult for security reasons, and so the Howard family lived at Kirribilli House.
If Mr Abbott did not want to use The Lodge as his primary residence it would probably make it easier and cheaper to find alternative Canberra accommodation for the PM while the upgrading was done.
The work on The Lodge will include upgrading essential services such as the 1920s electrical wiring, removal and remediation of materials containing asbestos, and new plumbing and fire protection.