Prime Minister Scott Morrison has been forced to admit some embarrassing personal information in a bid to defuse the scandal surrounding the official family photograph used on the front page of his taxpayer-funded official website.
Contributors to social media sites claimed the PM’s website had been altered to remove shabby running shoes he was wearing in the photo taken with his wife and two daughters (pictured). It was alleged the old shoes were substituted with pristine white running shoes in a glaringly obvious exercise in Photoshopping.
Social media sites said once the change was exposed, Mr Morrison’s family photo was cropped so that his footwear was not shown.
However, in a hastily called late night news conference, Mr Morrison gave his explanation.
“As Prime Minister I take ultimate responsibility for what’s happened. But the people who altered the photo did it with the best intentions and with the aim of trying to save me embarrassment,” he said.
“The fact is I was not wearing any shoes, new or old, when the original picture was taken. I often go without shoes because like anyone who grew up as a kid in a Sydney beachside suburb and a lifelong supporter of the Sharkies, going shoeless is ingrained and I still often find myself leaving the house in bare feet.
“The fact is that firstly the running shoes and then the new white shoes were Photoshopped into the website picture to avoid showing my feet which are naturally very hairy.
“It’s something I have never publicly discussed before, but I am quite a hairy man.”
“I have no idea why my PR people chose the white shoes in the end. I would have thought I already have the votes of the white shoe brigade pretty much in my pocket,” he quipped.
But seriously, Mr Morrison said, he could not understand the social media frenzy the photo had generated.
“While I have never before talked about my very hirsute body, it’s not as if I have ever tried to hide it,” he said.
“In fact there have been several times when major mainstream media organisations have photographed me when I have previously forgotten to wear shoes (pictured).
“Nobody said anything at the time, so it’s hard for me to fathom why there is such a fuss about it now,” he said.
Mr Morrison said he had never viewed his hairy body as “a problem”.
“I’ve always just accepted it as the way God made me,” he said.
“I was such a hairy baby that my parents toyed with the idea of calling me Esau instead of Scott.
“People also assume that my nickname ScoMo is a contraction of Scott and Morrison. Well, that’s half correct.
“While the ‘Sco’ is for Scott, I actually got the name because I was the only kid in year three at Bronte Public School with a full, thick moustache.
“My father actually had to teach me how to shave before I started kindy.
“At that age because of the risks, I used an electric razor. But later as my fine motor skills developed I could handle a Gillette disposable.
“I’ve been using them ever since and actually need to use them several times a day.
“You’ve heard of five o’clock shadow? In my case that’s 5am we’re talking about,” he said.