New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing mounting pressure on multiple fronts over her handling of Sydney’s long lockdown.
New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing political pressure from state and local government representatives as Sydney spends its 12th week of lockdown.
On Tuesday, mayors of the city’s coronavirus hot spots raised concerns about strict lockdown measures with the prime minister, while Labor MPs and MPs tried to persuade the NSW Parliament to resume sitting.
The prime minister held virtual talks with mayors from local government areas of interest, two weeks after it was reported that she had ignored their previous requests for a meeting.
Among the issues they have raised are curfews, excessive oversight of security and the strained mental health of residents.
Their LGA has been subject to the toughest lockdown restrictions in Sydney, including a strict overnight curfew and a ban on leaving the area unless it is for authorized essential work.
New South Wales Deputy Prime Minister John Barillaro said the curfew is not working, but remains in place.
Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christo said he gave the prime minister some “long overdue facts” about the hardships his community has faced over the past three months.
They are already very frustrated and are on the verge of collapse and clearly feel that they are second-class citizens. Our suburbs and streets are ghost towns. We’re all meant to be in this together,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“The prime minister certainly listened intently. But she certainly did not make any promises or assurances.”
Christo said Ms Berejiklian told the mayors that all decisions had been made on health advice and that she would convey their concerns to health authorities.
“Politicians are hiding behind health as a cover but they don’t provide how NSW Health made its decisions,” he said.
Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour said the meeting he was attending was “hot” and offered no guarantees as to when the regions would emerge from lockdown.
“We raised concerns about the different discrimination we feel in areas of concern, where the meeting has become a bit heated,” he told ABC.
Meanwhile, opposition from NSW and the cross-seats failed in their attempt to force the state parliament to resume sitting amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Some senators attended the legislature on Tuesday, although the Berejiklian government said it would not send a minister.
Without the presence of a minister, the proceedings cannot continue, according to parliamentary rules.
Labor MPs and smaller parties including One Nation, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers have united in a rare partisan moment to accuse the NSW government of hiding from scrutiny.
“This is a violation of the public health crisis by a government that fears accountability,” Green Party MP David Schwebridge told reporters.
The Berejiklian government called the move a “selfish ploy” that puts people at risk.
She said Parliament would resume on October 12 because the health risks were still too great before vaccination rates doubled.
“As the Prime Minister has indicated, the NSW government looks forward to resuming Parliament session in October as we move towards higher vaccination rates and safe sessions,” the NSW Liberal Party said in a statement.
The Prime Minister’s Office has been contacted for further comments.