NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian denies ignoring major COVID advice
Gladys Berejiklian has denied she ignored advice from the state’s health authorities following claims they told her three weeks ago that it was safe to open the Victorian border.
On Wednesday the NSW Premier announced she would open the border to the southern state on November 23 – about a month after her Victorian counterpart Daniel Andrews put an end to Melbourne’s tough stage 4 lockdown.
A day later a report in The Australian claimed health officials told Ms Berejiklian that regional Victoria had reached sufficient standards of contact tracing and daily COVID-19 testing rates for the border to open.
This knowledge was passed on to the Premier at a crisis meeting in October, the publication claims, before suggesting it raised questions about why the border didn’t open sooner.
Speaking to the Today show, Ms Berejiklian argued she did not ignore advice and those reports were “completely wrong”.
“Wrong, wrong. In fact, the advice I got was the opposite … to say it's best for everybody if you open the border all at once and not do it in stages which will cause further stress and chaos and perhaps risk the process,” she said.
The NSW-Victorian border has been closed since July 8. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ David CroslingSource:News Corp Australia
“Health and myself and all of our agencies are joined at the hip in NSW.”
The Premier has long stood by her stance that she would not keep the border closed “a day longer” than necessary, which is a stark contrast to Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk who has so far refused to allow Sydneysiders in.
But after Melbourne’s hard lockdown ended, Ms Berejiklian said it would take a few weeks to determine how that would influence case numbers in Victoria, which would give herself and chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant guidance on setting a border date.
The Berejiklian government shut the border to Victorians on July 8.
It later introduced a border bubble and permit system to allow residents in border towns to travel freely between the two states.
On Thursday morning the Premier said she was looking forward to November 23.
“Families have been separated, businesses have been stressed, and people have been worried about their jobs,” she said.
“Hopefully, this brings some hope to people in the future.
Gladys Berejiklian confirmed the border to Victoria would open on November 23. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian ShawSource:News Corp Australia
“I have confidence in the future. I have confidence in our system. I have confidence we can withstand the bumps that are going to come up in the road.”
The decision to open the border came after “careful consideration” and conversations with Mr Andrews and Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Ms Berejiklian said.
The move will set NSW apart from the rest of Australia as the only state to welcome residents from all other states and territories as well as citizens from New Zealand.
Victoria never closed its borders but travellers were discouraged from going there because they’d be forced into mandatory quarantine after returning to their home state.
“With that comes some level or risk and we accept that, but it’s a cautious risk and a calculated risk,” Ms Berejiklian said.
Victoria has not recorded a single case of COVID-19 for six days after another day of zero cases overnight.
NSW reported three new community cases on Thursday but all are household contacts of a previous case.
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