Freedomroo – Covid Australia: Awkward moment Gladys Berejiklian’s successor is confronted over Kerry Chant emails

NSW Premier Dom Perrottet (pictured) has insisted Dr Kerry Chant's bombshell emails which were ignored by former leader Gladys Berejiklian didn't count as health advice

NSW Premier Dom Perrottet has insisted Dr Kerry Chant’s bombshell emails which were ignored by former leader Gladys Berejiklian didn’t count as health advice.

But he admitted the state had made mistakes in the way they had handled parts of the pandemic. 

In emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia, NSW chief health officer Dr Chant backed ‘consistent’ Covid rules across Sydney which would not just target the city’s west.

She also warned against a complete two-week shutdown of the construction industry, recommending only a halt on residential building and non-essential repairs.

Ex-premier Berejiklian repeatedly insisted throughout lockdown that the government was acting on the health advice they had been given.

NSW Premier Dom Perrottet (pictured) has insisted Dr Kerry Chant’s bombshell emails which were ignored by former leader Gladys Berejiklian didn’t count as health advice

In emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant (pictured) backed 'consistent' Covid rules across Sydney which would not just target the city's west

In emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia, NSW chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant (pictured) backed ‘consistent’ Covid rules across Sydney which would not just target the city’s west

But Ms Berejiklian still signed off on both measures despite Dr Chant’s opposition. 

Mr Perrottet has now dismissed a furious political backlash over the revelations, saying on Tuesday: ‘That email is not the health advice, it’s an email.’

But he conceded errors had been made.

Sometimes, particularly in a pandemic, governments are going to get it wrong,’ he said.

‘We haven’t got everything right [but] we seek to get the balance right and I believe that we did.’

Despite Dr Chant’s recommendations, Ms Berejiklian brought in the two tier Sydney lockdown which was branded draconian by families in the city’s west.

Despite Dr Chant's recommendations opposing the move, Ms Berejiklian brought in the two tier Sydney lockdown which was branded draconian by families in the city's west (pictured, police on Covid patrol in Bankstown during the lockdown)

Despite Dr Chant’s recommendations opposing the move, Ms Berejiklian brought in the two tier Sydney lockdown which was branded draconian by families in the city’s west (pictured, police on Covid patrol in Bankstown during the lockdown)

The decision allowed Sydneysiders in the city's east and north to spend lockdown lazing on the beach and bushwalking (pictured, Coogee Beach at the peak of the pandemic in September)

The decision allowed Sydneysiders in the city’s east and north to spend lockdown lazing on the beach and bushwalking (pictured, Coogee Beach at the peak of the pandemic in September)

The decision allowed Sydneysiders in the city’s east and north to spend lockdown lazing on the beach and bushwalking – while the west was under near-martial law with a military-enforced 9pm curfew in 12 Covid-hotspot LGAs

The state also enforced the devastating two-week blanket ban on all construction work which cost an estimated $800million to a $1billion a week. 

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns had slammed the government for ignoring Dr Chant’s emails and has now demanded to see the health advice referred to by Mr Perrottet.

‘If they’ve got further information to release, we’re all ears,’ he said. ‘I suspect we’ll never see it.’

Mr Minns said families in Sydney’s west deserved answers.

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns (pictured) had slammed the government for ignoring Dr Chant's emails and has now demanded to see the health advice referred to by Mr Perrottet

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns (pictured) had slammed the government for ignoring Dr Chant’s emails and has now demanded to see the health advice referred to by Mr Perrottet

‘They’ve got every right to feel they’ve being picked on by their own government,’ he added.

But Western Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres defended the government’s decisions and denied the state had punished Sydney’s west. 

‘I completely reject the idea that we live in a two-tiered city,’ he said. ‘The government made decisions to attack the virus where the virus was.

‘I’m really over the victim mentality. 

‘This is a group of people that muscled up, rolled up their sleeves, got vaccinated, did everything we asked.

The NSW government lockdown restrictions enforced in 12 LGAs in the city's west and south-west imposed near-martial law with a military-enforced 9pm curfew (pictured, Bankstown's near empty main shopping street when daily cases numbers hit their peak in September)

The NSW government lockdown restrictions enforced in 12 LGAs in the city’s west and south-west imposed near-martial law with a military-enforced 9pm curfew (pictured, Bankstown’s near empty main shopping street when daily cases numbers hit their peak in September)

‘Because of what they did, we’re in a strong economic recovery position now.’

In the emails obtained by Daily Mail Australia, Dr Chant laid out her action plan to combat the surging number of Delta variant Covid cases sweeping through Sydney. 

She also warned against July’s complete two-week shutdown of the construction industry

The August 14 email sent to NSW health minister Brad Hazzard and health officials explicitly states that the same rules should be applied equally across Sydney.

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian signed off a two tier Sydney lockdown against the advice of top doctor Kerry Chant (pictured), bombshell emails revealed

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian signed off a two tier Sydney lockdown against the advice of top doctor Kerry Chant (pictured), bombshell emails revealed

Fairfield, in Sydney's west, on weekend seven of strict 'stay at home orders' with troops on the streets (above)

Fairfield, in Sydney’s west, on weekend seven of strict ‘stay at home orders’ with troops on the streets (above) 

Dr Chant’s third recommendation insists: ‘Implement consistent measures across greater metropolitan Sydney with outdoor masks, consistent 5km rule, and authorised workers only.’

Instead, however, on August 23 the government brought in brutal restrictions for suburbs in the city’s west, while allowing the north and east to ease through lockdown.

Those in the west faced the sight of ADF personnel on their streets enforcing a draconian lockdown and a 9pm to 5am dystopian curfew, while police helicopters hovered overhead ordering people back into their homes. 

But residents in Sydney’s east – where the Delta outbreak originated from in June – were regularly seen enjoying cocktails in the street and sunbaking on the beach.  

On August 23 the government brought in brutal restrictions for suburbs in the city's west, while allowing the east to ease through lockdown (pictured, sunseekers enjoy a laidback lockdown in Bronte in Sydney's eastern suburbs)

On August 23 the government brought in brutal restrictions for suburbs in the city’s west, while allowing the east to ease through lockdown (pictured, sunseekers enjoy a laidback lockdown in Bronte in Sydney’s eastern suburbs)

Silvertails in Sydney's east were regularly seen enjoying cocktails in the street and sunbaking on the beach (pictured, beachgoers at Coogee in August)

Silvertails in Sydney’s east were regularly seen enjoying cocktails in the street and sunbaking on the beach (pictured, beachgoers at Coogee in August)

In the west, residents were restricted to within 5km of their home while those in the east and north were only confined to staying within the borders of their LGA, or 5km from home if that was greater. 

And for many on the city’s northern coastline, that meant they could travel up to 30km and enjoy the pick of Sydney’s best beaches between Manly and Palm Beach. 

The state first went into lockdown on June 26, days after an airport air crew driver became infected and started the outbreak before finally testing positive several days later on June 15.

Initial attempts to contain the virus proved ineffective and numbers continued to rise, prompting the need for tighter restrictions and Dr Chant’s review and recommendations. 

Sydneysiders in the city's west faced the sight of ADF personnel on their streets enforcing a draconian lockdown and a 9pm to 5am dystopian curfew (pictured, police and military go out on patrol in Bankstown during the Covid curfew)

Sydneysiders in the city’s west faced the sight of ADF personnel on their streets enforcing a draconian lockdown and a 9pm to 5am dystopian curfew (pictured, police and military go out on patrol in Bankstown during the Covid curfew)

In the west, locals were restricted to within 5km of their home, mandatory masks outdoors and a 9pm to 5am curfew (pictured, a local makes a rare trip to the shops in Bankstown)

In the west, locals were restricted to within 5km of their home, mandatory masks outdoors and a 9pm to 5am curfew (pictured, a local makes a rare trip to the shops in Bankstown)

Other emails reveal Dr Chant had previously recommended stricter rules in July, including an 8pm curfew, masks indoors and out, closing retail and a 5km travel limit. 

Dr Chant based those July 13 recommendations on Victoria’s 2020 lockdown, with a ban on almost everything except takeaway food outlets. 

At the time of that email, there were just 99 new cases of Covid that day and the recommendations were not implemented. 

By the time of Dr Chant’s email on August 14 demanding action across the whole city, there were 469 new cases that day throughout the state.

The figures continued to rise until the outbreak hit a peak in mid-September when numbers soared past 1600 and hospitals started to buckle under the caseload.

The government ignored Dr Kerry Chant's advice and brought in targeted restriction which divided the city (pictured, former premier Gladys Berejiklian, left, health minister Brad Hazzard and chief medical officer Dr Chant)

The government ignored Dr Kerry Chant’s advice and brought in targeted restriction which divided the city (pictured, former premier Gladys Berejiklian, left, health minister Brad Hazzard and chief medical officer Dr Chant)

The Labor opposition in NSW has seized on the emails as evidence of the two tier lockdown (pictured, lockdown life in Bronte in August)

The Labor opposition in NSW has seized on the emails as evidence of the two tier lockdown (pictured, lockdown life in Bronte in August)

As vaccinations rates increased, the numbers fell until lockdown restrictions were finally eased in October. On Monday, NSW Health reported 180 new cases.

Now NSW Labor opposition MPs have reacted furiously to the Dr Chant email revelations.

‘NSW residents put their trust in this Liberal-National government to follow the health advice during a time of crisis,’ said NSW Labor leader Chris Minns.

‘These documents reveal the government was not following health advice when they needed it most.

‘These revelations show they left Sydney’s west and south west in tougher restrictions when it is clear consistency should have been applied across the whole of greater Sydney.’

He said the communities in the west had paid a heavy price for the two-tier approach. 

Even under lockdown, Sydneysiders on the Northern Beaches had the pick of some of the city's best sunspots from Manly to Palm Beach (pictured, people relaxing at Bondi Beach)

Even under lockdown, Sydneysiders on the Northern Beaches had the pick of some of the city’s best sunspots from Manly to Palm Beach (pictured, people relaxing at Bondi Beach)

Locals in Sydney's west faced some of the harshest lockdown conditions in the world (pictured, people queue outside a vaccination clinic in Glebe in August)

Locals in Sydney’s west faced some of the harshest lockdown conditions in the world (pictured, people queue outside a vaccination clinic in Glebe in August)

‘Businesses across South West and Western Sydney were forced to shut, and revenue decimated,’ he said.

‘Students missed face to face learning at the most critical of times.

‘Some of the harshest restrictions the country has seen were imposed on Western Sydney communities.

‘The Government with Dominic Perrottet front and centre split Sydney in two, when there should not have been a divide.’

Sydneysiders in the eastern suburbs made the most of the relaxed restrictions (pictured, police check on sunbakers at Bondi)

Sydneysiders in the eastern suburbs made the most of the relaxed restrictions (pictured, police check on sunbakers at Bondi)

Residents in the west were restricted to within 5km of their home and only essential travel, with restrictions enforced by police and military (pictured)

Residents in the west were restricted to within 5km of their home and only essential travel, with restrictions enforced by police and military (pictured)

Shadow health minister Ryan Park said the email had exposed the differing standards applied to Sydneysiders based on the postcodes of where they lived.

‘We were told we were all in this together, but for the Liberal government, that was never true,’ he said.

‘These revelations are damning, and Dominic Perrottet and the Liberal government owes west and south west Sydney an explanation and an apology.

‘Labor repeatedly called for the health advice to be released – the government refused. Now we can see why.’ 

DR KERRY CHANT’S ACTION PLAN REVEALED IN BOMBSHELL EMAIL

From: Kerry Chant (Ministry of Health)

Sent: Saturday, 14 August 2021 10:53 AM

TO: Michelle Cretikos (Ministry of Health); Marianne Gale (South Eastern Sydney LHD); Andrew Wilson; Bradley Hazzard 

Subject: draft recommendations 

Situation

Case numbers are high and are escalating and likely to reach 1000 cases a day very quickly. At these case numbers the effectiveness of contact tracing declines rapidly.

Regional seeding events are increasing setting of significant community outbreaks in regional NSW. Managing regional outbreaks is complex and rapidly overwhelm local services.

This is the worst outbreak in Australia during the Pandemic.

Whilst Victoria had a peak of around 700 cases it then declined with the measures in place whilst we are seeing steadily escalating cases numbers despite current settings.

There is a significant risk of the health system being rapidly overwhelmed because of case numbers and the flow on impacts with high numbers of staff in quarantine

There is a particular concern about cases escalating in Western NSW and Far West and also Western Sydney and areas of Nepean Blue Mountains.

With the Delta variant, infection rates are higher especially and at time of detection the majority of household members are positive leading to further transmission.

Delta also spreads more easily amongst children particularly in settings such as child care.

People are sicker and more people are being admitted to ICU and hospital.

Recommendations.

Immediate action is taken to mitigate the risk of an escalating outbreak Greater Metropolitan Sydney

1. Intensify the action in Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains where case numbers are escalating

2. Intensify the action in all rural and regional Aboriginal communities with a high proportion of Aboriginal people and prioritise vaccine rollout in these communities

3. Implement consistent measures across greater metropolitan Sydney with outdoor masks, consistent 5 Km rule, and authorised workers only.

4. Further restrictions

CCC only authorised workers can use Child Care

All retail closed except for food and alcohol and other absolute essentials – click and collect for hardware and building supplies, landscaping materials, garden and plant centres, office supplies and pet supplies

Identify opportunities to reduce non-essential activity in manufacturing/construction. This would have the additional benefit of allowing workplace surveillance and immunisation controls to put in place and scaled.

1 hour of exercise per day

5. Assessment by police to identify any additional measures deem necessary to control movements and gatherings

6. Mandate vaccination in aged care, disability, and health care

7. Elective surgery restrictions including private hospitals

8. Urgently extend the isolation payment to all LGAs of concern

 

Outside greater metropolitan Sydney

1. Based on careful consideration of the risks and consequences a regional lockdown is recommended in line with the restrictions in Sydney in order to protect the regions from further seeding events and minimise spread from already impacted regional areas

2. Permit system is introduced with strong compliance measures to prevent further seeding

3. Police advice on additional measures to stop movement of people from metropolitan areas is sought to create additional controls

4. Prioritise rural Aboriginal communities for vaccination and overall promote high levels of vaccination

I would also suggest an urgent pause of overseas arrivals to free up lab testing capacity and accommodation assets – both of these are currently at capacity.

Regards

Kerry

 

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