Dominic Perrottet has been grilled by firebrand reporter Leigh Sales during his first major sit-down interview since becoming NSW premier.
The leader was questioned about everything from the state’s Covid cases to his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian and her secret five year relationship with a rogue MP.
Asked whether Ms Berejiklian should have disclosed her relationship with Daryl McGuire to colleagues, the father-of-six refused to answer and saying the investigation was ‘ongoing’.
But his reply didn’t satisfy the ABC 7.30 presenter, who replied: ‘Sorry, Premier, you are the leader of the government though and you would have standards that you expect from your ministers.
‘If you had somebody on your team that was engaged in a relationship like that, would you expect it to be disclosed?’
The leader was questioned about everything from the state’s Covid cases to his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian and her secret five year relationship with rogue MP Daryl Maguire (pictured together)
Thinking on his feet, Mr Perrottet said he ‘was not sure’.
‘The premier’s made previous comments in relation to the fact that she did not believe that the relationship was of a sufficient standard that would meet the disclosure of interest requirements for government in those meetings such as the Expenditure Review Committee,’ he went on to say.
‘But you know, I haven’t obviously discussed the matter with the former premier because we are not entitled to speak about those matters that are currently before the ICAC.’
The ABC presenter then probed whether the state leader would move to ‘clip the wings’ of the anti-corruption body after the third Liberal Party premier was forced to stand down due under a cloud.
Mr Perrottet initially denied the rumours but then said it’s possible there could be some reforms.
Dominic Perrottet is a devout Catholic and father-of-six (pictured with his family) who has staunch conservative views
Dominic Perrottet (right) has been grilled by firebrand reporter Leigh Sales (left) during his first major sit-down interview since becoming NSW premier
At 39, Dominic Perrottet (pictured here with his wife Helen) is the youngest leader in the history of NSW
‘No. I mean, I think the integrity agency has an important role in ensuring corruption is out of public life,’ he said.
‘But that doesn’t mean from time-to-time reforms to every part of the government here in New South Wales shouldn’t be looked at.
‘But if there are ways in which we can strengthen independent oversight, in whatever area it is, I think that’s a positive thing.’
As he started to appear more confident up against the TV titan, Sales brought up his record as finance minister, and the disastrous workers compensation scheme he set up called icare.
‘People say that the best indicator of future performance is past performance…. last year it was found to have lost more than $3billion as well as cutting benefits to thousands of injured workers,’ she said.
‘You declined to be interviewed for a review into it.
‘If that’s an indication of your competence and your preparedness to be accountable, how well does it bode for your performance as premier?’
He acknowledged the implementation of the scheme ‘could have been better’.
Sales brought up Mr Perrottet’s (pictured getting a haircut on Freedom Day) record as finance minister, and the disastrous workers compensation scheme he set up called icare
Mr Perrottet’s (pictured pulling a beer on Freedom Day) icare scheme lost $3billion and also cut benefits to thousands of injured workers.
The Premier (pictured drinking a beer on Freedom Day) acknowledged the implementation of the scheme ‘could have been better’
‘Now when you are setting up state-owned corporations or in this case a public financial corporation, there will obviously be cultural changes and mistakes were clearly made but I do believe the reform was right,’ Mr Perrottet said.
But there were some brighter moments for the newly-minted premier, who remains squarely focused on leading NSW’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and the gruelling four-month lockdown which fully-vaccinated residents finally emerged from this week.
There were just 444 new Covid cases in NSW on Wednesday, down from 1,600 daily infectious at the height of the outbreak in September.
The state is expected to smash its 80 per cent vaccination target by Sunday, paving the way for even more restrictions to ease.
When asked if cases are expected to ‘go through the roof’ in the weeks following the re-opening, Mr Perrottet said the government is still preparing for a significant spike but are confident the healthcare system will be be able to cope.
The premier is expecting Covid cases to rise in the weeks following the reopen (pictured, drag queen Dakota Fann’ee hosts a drag trivia night at the Imperial Erskineville bar on October 13)
There were just 444 new Covid cases in NSW on Wednesday, down from 1600 daily infectious at the height of the outbreak in September (pictured, George Street in Sydney on October 12)
NSW is expected to smash its 80 per cent vaccination target by Sunday, paving the way for even more restrictions to ease (pictured, The Queen Victoria Building in Sydney on October 12)
‘Based on the advice we have received from NSW Health, we believe that there will naturally be an increase in case numbers and hospitalisations as mobility increases across the state,’ he said.
‘But we think in terms of the success that we have had on the vaccination rate, it’s been incredibly pleasing to see the efforts of so many people across our state going out and getting vaccinated, that that’s really going to help us in relation to hospitalisations, and ICU presentations.’
The premier said NSW is a ‘long way from home’ and still faces substantial challenges when it comes to the pandemic.
‘But we are opening up in a well measured and conservative way that will ensure people are kept safe, but ultimately as well, we keep people in working and get businesses open,’ he said.
Revised roadmap to freedom: All the changes for fully vaccinated NSW residents after hitting 70% jab target
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s revised freedom plan will kick off on Monday, October 11
Gatherings in the home and public spaces
· Up to ten visitors will be allowed in a home where all adults are vaccinated (not including children 12 and under).
· Up to 30 people can gather in outdoor settings.
Venues including hospitality, retail stores and gyms
· Hospitality venues can reopen subject to one person per 4sqm inside and one person per 2sqm outside, with standing while drinking permitted outside.
· Retail stores can reopen under the one person per 4sqm rule (unvaccinated people will continue to only be able to access critical retail).
· Personal services such as hairdressers and nail salons can open with one person per 4sqm, capped at five clients per premises.
· Gyms and indoor recreation facilities can open under the one person per 4sqm rule and can offer classes for up to 20 people.
· Sporting facilities including swimming pools can reopen.
Stadiums, theatres and major outdoor recreation facilities
· Major recreation outdoor facilities including stadiums, racecourses, theme parks and zoos can reopen with one person per 4sqm, capped at 5,000 people.
· Up to 500 people can attend ticketed and seated outdoor events.
· Indoor entertainment and information facilities including cinemas, theatres, music halls, museums and galleries can reopen with one person per 4sqm or 75 per cent fixed seated capacity.
· Indoor swimming pools open for lessons, squad training, lap swimming and rehab activities only
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
· Up to 100 guests can attend weddings, with dancing permitted and eating and drinking only while seated.
· Up to 100 guests can attend funerals, with eating and drinking while seated.
· For those not fully vaccinated lower caps of 5 and ten apply for weddings and funerals.
· Churches and places of worship to open subject to one person per 4sqm rule, with performers exempt from ban on singing.
· Ten person cap on choirs in places of worship and at religious services, with all performers to be fully vaccinated
· The 5km radius will be dropped but Sydneysiders can only travel within greater Sydney – including the Central Coast, Wollongong and Blue Mountains.
· Caravan parks and camping grounds can open.
· Carpooling will be permitted.
Non-vaccinated young people aged under 16 will be able to access all outdoor settings but will only be able to visit indoor venues with members of their household.
Employers must continue to allow employees to work from home if the employee is able to do so.
There will be revised guidance on isolation for close and casual contacts who are fully vaccinated, with details to be provided closer to the reopening date.
· Masks will remain mandatory for all indoor public venues, including public transport, front-of-house hospitality, retail and business premises, on planes and at airports.
· Only hospitality staff will be required to wear a mask when outdoors.
· Children aged under 12 will not need to wear a mask indoors.