'Hopeless': Health Minister criticised over awkward ABC interview

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NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard has been criticised over an awkward TV interview about the ongoing Covid lockdown affecting Sydney.

Mr Hazzard appeared on ABC’s Insiders on Sunday morning where he was asked if the government was advised by Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant to go into lockdown earlier than June 25.

At this stage, Greater Sydney and a number of other LGAs in Sydney’s west and southwest will remain in lockdown until August 28.

When asked by host David Speers about when Dr Chant advised the city to go into lockdown, Mr Hazzard said he did not have the dates. Mr Speers told him these are “critical”.

“I can tell you this — we respond very quickly to any recommendation that has come from Dr Chant and her entire public health team,” he said.

Police officers check ID cards of people walking in the CBD in order to prevent an anti-lockdown protest, during lockdown in Sydney, Australia, Saturday.
NSW Police check ID cards of people walking in Sydney's CBD ahead of an anti-lockdown protest. Source: Getty Images

Speers asked the health minister if Dr Chant suggested going into lockdown before the government acted on it and Mr Hazzard said, “I don’t think that’s true” and “there was no delay”.

Mr Hazzard argued that the NSW Government has “done everything” as it was advised but has had issues in Sydney’s southwest.

“It's a very difficult community to gain the confidence of and to have them respond in the way that we need them to respond,” he said.

The health minister clarified the advice comes from health and economic teams in the government.

Mr Speers asked him if he offered “any apology” suggesting lessons had to be learned by every state in how Victoria has experienced lockdown.

“What I have said, David, is what I intend to say again and that is that we have taken the health advice and we will continue to do that and it's all very well to be wise after the event by numerous commentators,” he said.

Mr Hazzard added there are “plenty of health experts that the commercial channels and your channel get advice from”, referring to the ABC.

“We take our advice from our public health team, who get advice from others, such as the Doherty Institute, and we'll stick with that, if you don't mind,” he said.

Mr Hazzard was also asked about recommendations from Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid that restrictions in southwest Sydney need to be expanded across the entire city such as the 5km rule.

"We're trying to strike a balance and I think the balance is appropriate," Mr Hazzard said.

Insiders host David Speers is pictured.
Insiders host David Speers asked Brad Hazzard if advice came through earlier to lockdown Greater Sydney. Source: ABC/Insiders

He said there was a "high level of compliance" when Sydney locked down the northern beaches during an Alpha outbreak last year and the eastern suburbs during the current Delta outbreak.

The health minister added Dr Chant had made no recommendations to expand the rules.

On Twitter, people criticised the health minister over the awkward interview and some of his answers.

“It seems Brad Hazzard didn’t realise much,” one woman tweeted.

Others called him “hopeless”.

A man wearing a face mask walks beside the Harbour Bridge in Sydney, Australia.
A man walks past the Sydney Harbour bridge. Source: Getty Images

One man tweeted Dr Hazzard’s claim he could not remember when the CHO advised lockdown was “totally stretching credulity”.

Some accused him of passing the buck to Dr Chant.

Either way, the blame game has unfortunately been an ongoing part of the entire pandemic, with people accusing governments of either going too hard or too soft on lockdowns.

Brisbane City along with the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast entered a three-day lockdown at 4pm on Saturday.

They are scheduled to end lockdown on Tuesday at 4pm.

with AAP

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