NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing growing pressure on multiple fronts over her handling of Sydney’s long lockdown.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing political pressure from both state and local government representatives as Sydney spends its 12th week in lockdown.
On Tuesday, mayors of the city’s coronavirus hot spots raised concerns about tough lockdown measures with the premier, while Labor and crossbench MPs attempted to get NSW parliament to resume sitting.
The premier held virtual talks with mayors from the local government areas of concern, two weeks after she reportedly snubbed their earlier requests for a meeting.
Curfews, over-policing and the strained mental health of residents were among the issues they raised.
Their LGAs have been subject to Sydney’s toughest lockdown restrictions, including a strict overnight curfew and a ban on leaving the area unless for authorised essential work.
NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro has said the curfews don’t work, but they remain in place.
Cumberland City Council Mayor Steve Christou said he had given the premier some “long overdue realities” of the hardships his community faced over the past three months.
“They’re already extremely frustrated and at breaking point and clearly feel like second class citizens. Our suburbs and streets are ghost towns. We’re all meant to be in this together,” he told NCA NewsWire.
“The premier definitely listened attentively. But she definitely made no promises or assurances.”
Mr Christou said Ms Berejiklian told the mayors all the decisions had been made on health advice and that she would relay their concerns to health authorities.
“Politicians are hiding behind health as a cover but not presenting how NSW Health came to its decisions,” he said.
Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour said the meeting he was in got “heated” and did not bring any guarantee of when the areas would emerge from lockdown.
“We raised concerns about the different discrimination that we’re feeling in the areas of concern, where the meeting got a little bit heated,” he told the ABC.
Meanwhile, the NSW opposition and the crossbench failed in their attempt to force state Parliament to resume sitting amid the Covid-19 outbreak.
Some upper house MPs attended the Legislative Council on Tuesday, even though the Berejiklian government said it wouldn’t send a minister.
Without a minister present the proceedings could not continue, according to parliamentary rules.
MPs from Labor and minor parties including One Nation and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers united in a rare partisan moment to accuse the NSW government of hiding from scrutiny.
“This is an abuse of a public health crisis by a government that is afraid of accountability,” Greens MP David Shoebridge told reporters.
The Berejiklian government called the move a “selfish stunt” that put people at risk.
It has said parliament will resume on October 12 because the health risk is still too great before double dose vaccination rates are higher.
“As the premier has indicated, the NSW government is looking forward to resuming parliament sitting in October as we move towards higher vaccination rates and safe sittings,” the NSW Liberal Party said in a statement.
The premier’s office has been contacted for further comment.
Originally published as Gladys Berejiklian faces political pressure over her handling of Covid-19