With the continued threat of community transmission ever-present – New South Wales Premier, the Hon Gladys Berejiklian MP, is widely considered the leading Premier on the east coast for her response to COVID-19.
Following our profile on Victorian Premier, the Hon Daniel Andrews MP, the Nexus team is continuing this series and has analysed the background of Premier Berejiklian.
With this in mind, here are our key insights on the impact and continued suppression of COVID-19 in New South Wales.
Premier Berejiklian has served as the Premier of NSW since January 2017, elected by the NSW Liberal Party after the resignation of former NSW Premier the Hon Mike Baird MP. Premier Berejiklian has represented the seat of Willoughby since 2003, following her Presidency of the NSW Young Liberals in 1996-97, and after a career in political staffing and also as an executive in banking at the Commonwealth Bank until 2003.
Following her election, Premier Berejiklian spent a brief period on the backbench before being appointed as Shadow Minister for Mental Health in 2005.
Upon the election of the Hon Barry O’Farrell MP Government in 2011, Premier Berejiklian was appointed as Minister for Transport, then was subsequently appointed as Treasurer and Minister for Industrial Relations in 2015.
Premier Berejiklian is well respected for her work ethic and intelligence across multiple portfolios and has engaged with a wide range of stakeholders across government and opposition.
The Coalition, led by Premier Berejiklian into the 2019 state election, becoming only the third woman to take a major party into an election in NSW. Despite polls showing a Labor lead, the Coalition only suffered a small swing towards Labor, managing to hold a majority of two seats.
CLUSTERS & CONTROL
Premier Berejiklian has received significant praise for her steadfast handling of the COVID Crisis, most notable of which is from Prime Minister, the Hon Scott Morrison MP, who has commended her response and that of the NSW State Government.
Despite significant suppression of the virus, and the number of new infections in NSW has remained steady for several weeks, Premier Berejiklian has stated NSW is on “high alert” due to the potential for ongoing COVID-19 clusters to spread rapidly. Premier Berejiklian has said she is anxious about the steady number of “mystery cases” and went on to say that “when every week you get a couple of unknown cases, and they can’t be linked, you do worry because what it does tell us is that there is the disease circulating.”
Concerns with undetected community transmission within NSW has resulted in NSW health authorities urging symptomatic people to assume they have coronavirus. Further, due to several outbreaks in school facilities across Sydney, new rules to ensure public schools in NSW can continue to remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic have been announced by the State Government.
Any NSW student with symptoms of COVID-19 will not be allowed to return to school until they test negative under the stringent new guidelines. Furthermore, gatherings such as School formals, dances, graduations, and other social events have been prohibited.
Premier Berejiklian’s COVID-19 response has come under scrutiny due to the Ruby Princess cruise ship controversy. The recent release of the findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess, that found NSW Health had made severe and fundamental errors in its handling of passengers and health protocols.
The acknowledgement by NSW Health for mistakes in its handling of the Ruby Princess controversy has prompted Premier Berejiklian to apologise to people who “suffered as a result of mistakes” made by NSW Health. The Commissioner of the NSW police, Mr Mick Fuller APM, confirmed that the NSW Police were considering pursuing charges of criminal negligence and that an investigation is currently ongoing.