Dominic Perrottet probed after Kerry Chant ‘missing’ from key health announcement
Dominic Perrottet has been grilled about the absence of the state’s top doctor while delivering a significant health announcement.
The NSW Premier revealed hotel quarantine would be scrapped for fully vaccinated international arrivals from November 1 in arguably one of the biggest health-related announcements in months.
But Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant, usually a staple at Gladys Berejiklian’s press conferences, was nowhere to be seen.
A reporter probed Mr Perrottet about how opening up to the rest of the world put Australia at risk of being exposed to a new strain of Covid-19.
“Wouldn’t it be important to have Kerry Chant here today?” the Premier was asked.
Mr Perrottet argued that there were various messages the “public needed to hear” on different days.
“I thought it was very important that Susan Pearce, who is that it is secretary of health, provide information about vaccinations and driving the vaccination rates across, particularly regional NSW, but right across the state because there is a long journey to go,” he said.
“It‘s about providing the message of the day, the clear message, and based on different announcements on different days I’ll have different ministers and members of the departments who we think will be able to provide the clear messages the government wants to convey at any point in time.”
It’s not the first time Dr Chant has been left out of a key press conference.
When Mr Perrottet was sworn in two weeks ago, after the resignation of Ms Berejiklian, he announced students across the state would return to school by October 25.
He also unveiled several other changes to the state’s road map out of lockdown.
But Dr Chant was not there.
“What does it say to your respect of Dr Kerry Chant that you wouldn't invite her here today as one of your first major (press conferences). It is a bit disrespectful isn’t it?” 9 News journalist Chris O’Keefe asked.
“Dr Chant is one of my favourite constituents in Epping,” Mr Perrottet fired back.
“We’ve always had a great relationship. But … we are moving away from 11am press conferences, the health numbers will now be provided (at 9am).”
On Saturday he denied stepping around public health advice when changing the state’s road map out of lockdown.
Mr Perrottet said the claims were “untrue” and argued there would always be different opinions on what should be done.
“This is a balance and that’s the approach the NSW Government has taken successfully over the course of the last 18 months,” he told reporters.
“We listened to the health advice. We listened to the economic advice. We listened to the mental health advice as well.”
NSW is expected to achieve the 80 per cent double dose target later on Friday which would trigger the next wave of eased restrictions.
Recent numbers revealed 78.81 per cent of eligible residents have had both doses of the Covid vaccine, while 91.66 per cent have had their first dose – as of Thursday evening.
Despite hitting the target, regional travel is still off the cards until November 1.
NSW recorded 399 new Covid cases on Friday.
Originally published as Dominic Perrottet probed after Kerry Chant ‘missing’ from key health announcement
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