The NSW Government and former premier Gladys Berejiklian have been accused of ignoring health advice recommended by Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant during this year’s Delta variant outbreak. Emails between health officials now appear to confirm that Berejiklian’s decisions were not entirely supported by Dr Chant’s advice.
The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reports that emails show Dr Chant recommended “consistent measures” across the Sydney region in August. Berejiklian is now facing criticism for her decision to impose stricter restrictions on Western Sydney than on the rest of the region. At the time, the former premier claimed the decision was made based on health advice.
An email from Dr Chant to Health Minister Brad Hazzard on August 14 now reveals that was not her recommendation.
“Implement consistent measures across greater metropolitan Sydney with outdoor masks, consistent 5km rule and authorized workers only,” Dr Chant wrote, according to SMH.
The email was sent the same day the NSW Government imposed new and separate suburb-based health measures, effectively splitting Sydney in two.
The NSW Government’s decision to ignore this advice meant that many Sydney residents enjoyed greater freedoms while western and southwestern residents were subject to strict public health measures.
“These revelations show they ignored health advice and left Sydney’s West and South-West under tougher restrictions, when it is clear consistency should have been applied across the whole of Greater Sydney,” said NSW Labor Leader Chris Minns.
One of the most outspoken critics of the NSW Government’s rejection of health advice is Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour. Asfour’s region was one of the areas targeted by stricter health measures compared to the rest of Sydney.
“They said they relied on the health advice when clearly they didn’t, and they said we’re all in this together, and we weren’t,” Asfour said.
“It’s clear now that the health advice showed that we were treated differently than the rest of Sydney and the health advice said not to do that.”
Asfour has called for a public inquiry into the issue, as well as a public apology.
“I think the premier needs to come out today and apologise for the treatment of our area and our communities and the 2.2 million people that were suffering and discriminated against by this government.”
Berejiklian was asked about allegations she ignored Dr Chant’s advice in September.
“Dr Chant and I speak regularly on a daily basis and the NSW Government would not announce or endorse anything unless she had input and unless she felt comfortable enough,” Berejiklian told Sunrise at the time.
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