Brad Hazzard says reopening roadmap won't change under new NSW premier

New South Wales will become the first state or territory in Australia to witness a change in a leader during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant arrive at Sunday's press conference.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant arrive at Sunday's press conference. Source: AAP

New South Wales Health Minister Brad Hazzard has rejected concerns the state’s COVID-19 response will be torn up under a new leader, following the abrupt departure of Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Ms Berejiklian announced her resignation on Friday afternoon, shortly after the state’s corruption watchdog ICAC announced it would be investigating her conduct during ‘close personal relationship’ with disgraced former MP Daryl Maguire.

The development means New South Wales will become the first jurisdiction in Australia to see a change in leader since the pandemic began.

On Sunday, Minister Hazzard and Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant fronted the media for the first time since the Premier’s resignation on Friday. 

Mr Hazzard gave assurances that the change in premier would not lead to drastic changes to the state’s roadmap to reopening.  

Gladys Berejiklian resigns as NSW Premier

"The roadmap has been very carefully worked on by the entire public-health team and it will definitely stay the same unless of course circumstances change in terms of the numbers of cases," Minister Hazzard said.

"It will change only in the sense if there is some medical issue that requires it to be revisited, but that is happening all the time anyway."

Four senior liberal figures are vying to replace Ms Berejiklian as party leader.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, who crafted the state’s business support package, is considered the frontrunner and has in past been cynical about the use of lockdowns as a public measure.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet poses for a photo outside the NSW Parliament in Sydney, Monday, June 21, 2021 shortly before handing the state budget.
Source: AAP

Speaking recently on Radio 2GB on 24 September, he railed against long-term restrictions on people who chose not to get vaccinated, saying, "It's not the government's role to provide freedom". 

"People born in this country by default are free," he said.

“Once…every single person in the state has had the opportunity to be vaccinated with two doses then we should open up for everyone honestly.”

"[We must] not have a two-tiered society here."

Minister Hazzard said decisions on the state's roadmap had always been made with the consensus of crisis cabinet, and this would continue regardless of the new premier.

"We are as a community, forever grateful to Gladys Berejiklian but that doesn't mean that the health team and the rest of the government won't continue to do what we need to do," he told reporters.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant sharing a word in June.
Source: AAP

Dr Chant said Ms Berejiklian, with whom she appeared beside at dozens of press conferences, had "worked tirelessly since the pandemic commenced".

"I think her clear commitment to the community is so evident."

"The Premier has worked tirelessly since the pandemic commenced through this most difficult time and I think her clear commitment to the community is so evident."

Mr Hazzard dodged questions on whether he’d spoken to the outgoing premier since her resignation announcement on Friday.

"What I would say, about the premier is that I think that she has been an amazing premier, a person of high integrity and somebody that I would place my trust in completely," he said. 

He said it would be up to the new premier to decide whether he remains as health minister in the new cabinet.

Published 3 October 2021 at 2:59pm, updated 3 October 2021 at 3:07pm
By Naveen Razik
Source: SBS News