Gladys Berejiklian defends Brad Hazzard over 'other backgrounds' comment

In an interview with SBS News, the NSW Premier said her health minister was not suggesting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds were more likely to break COVID-19 rules.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) speaking with SBS News's Janice Petersen

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian (right) speaking with SBS News's Janice Petersen Source: SBS News

New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian has defended her health minister over comments interpreted by some people as suggesting residents from multicultural backgrounds don’t comply with health orders.

In an interview with SBS News on Thursday, Ms Berejiklian was quizzed about Brad Hazzard’s comments on 10  August when he was speaking about people flouting rules in Western Sydney.

Mr Hazzard told reporters “there are communities and people from other backgrounds who don’t seem to think that it is necessary to comply with the law”.

He also said such communities “don’t really give great consideration to what they do in terms of its impact on the rest of the community”.

Ms Berejiklian on Thursday said the minister was not suggesting people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds were more likely to break the rules.

“I wouldn't read that into Mr Hazzard’s comments at all,” she told SBS News's Janice Peterson.

“He's a very compassionate, understanding person, and all of us have had to deal with a very difficult situation.”

Full interview: Gladys Berejiklian speaks with SBS News

The NSW government has faced criticism about its approach to curtailing the spread of coronavirus in the strictly- locked-down west of Sydney, home to a large multicultural population.

On the weekend, pictures of crowds at Bondi Beach in Sydney's more affluent eastern suburbs, which have lower numbers of COVID-19 cases, went viral.

Many residents of Sydney's west were critical of the way those in the east were allowed to congregate en-masse at the beach while they were under hard lockdown.

Ms Berejiklian touched on her own Armenian background to say she empathised with multicultural communities.

“As someone who comes from a very proud migrant family ... I can imagine the stresses that have been placed on households,” she said.

Ms Berejiklian said part of the reason why case numbers are so high in western and southwestern Sydney is because many residents are essential workers.

“I think every citizen has the right to feel frustrated and resentful because of the way all of our freedoms have (been) curtailed.”

The premier also urged other states and territories to stick to the national plan for re-opening Australia.

“We can't stop families within our own country from reuniting. We can't stop Australians from coming home,” she said. 

NSW on Thursday reported 1,351 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 and 12 more fatalities, which took the death toll for the current outbreak to 210.

There are currently 1,231 COVID-19 cases admitted to hospital, with 231 people in intensive care, 108 of whom require ventilation, according to NSW Health.

Across the state, 80.1 per cent of the over-16 population has now received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 48.5 per cent of the entire community over 16 is fully vaccinated, Mr Hazzard said.


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Published 16 September 2021 at 7:25pm, updated 16 September 2021 at 7:30pm
By Janice Petersen, Rashida Yosufzai
Source: SBS News