Dominic Perrottet has been grilled by firebrand reporter Leigh Sales during his first major sit-down interview since becoming Prime Minister of NSW.
The leader was questioned on everything from the state’s Covid affairs to his predecessor Gladys Berejiklian and her secret five-year relationship with a rogue MP.
When asked whether Ms Berejiklian should have disclosed her relationship with Daryl McGuire to colleagues, the father of six declined to answer – simply stating that the investigation was “ongoing.”
But his answer fell short of the ABC 7.30 star, who replied: ‘Sorry Prime Minister, however you are the leader of the government and you would have standards you expect from your ministers.
“If you had someone on your team who had a relationship like that, would you expect it to be revealed?”
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 to his feet, Mr. Perrottet said he “wasn’t sure.”
“The Prime Minister has made previous comments regarding the fact that she did not believe the relationship was of a sufficient level to meet public interest disclosure requirements in meetings such as the Expense Review Committee,” he continued. .
“But you know, of course I haven’t discussed the matter with the former prime minister because we don’t have the right to talk about those cases that are currently at ICAC.”
The ABC presenter then examined whether the state leader would step up to “clip its wings” on the anti-corruption body after the third Liberal Party prime minister was forced to resign over a cloud.
Mr Perrottet initially denied the rumours, but then said it is possible that some reforms are coming.
Dominic Perrottet (right) grilled by brand reporter Leigh Sales (left) during his first major sit-down interview since becoming Prime Minister of NSW
‘New. I mean, I think the integrity body plays an important role in ensuring that corruption is kept out of public life,” he said.
“But that doesn’t mean that from time to time reforms for every part of government here in New South Wales shouldn’t be looked at.
“But if there are ways we can strengthen independent oversight in any area, I think that’s a good thing.”
As he began to gain confidence in the face of the TV titan, Sales brought up his horrendous record as Treasury Secretary and the disastrous workers’ compensation plan he had set up called icare.
“People say that the best indicator of future performance is past performance….LLast year it was found to have lost more than $3 billion and reduced benefits for thousands of injured workers,” she said.
‘You declined to be interviewed for a review on this.
“If that’s an indication of your ability and your willingness to be accountable, how good is that for your performance as Prime Minister?”
He acknowledges that the implementation of the scheme ‘could have been better’.
The sale brought up Mr. Perrottet’s horrendous record (pictured with a Friday haircut) as Treasury Secretary, and the disastrous workers’ compensation scheme he had set up called icare.
Mr. Perrottet’s (pictured drinking a beer on Freedom Day) icare plan lost $3 billion and also reduced benefits for thousands of injured workers.
The Prime Minister (pictured drinking a beer on Freedom Day) acknowledged that the implementation of the scheme ‘could have been better’
“Now if you set up state-owned enterprises or in this case a public financial company, there will of course be cultural changes and obviously mistakes have been made, but I do believe the reform was right,” Perrottet said.
But there were some better moments for the newly minted Prime Minister, who remains fully focused on leading NSW’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and the grueling four-month lockdown that fully vaccinated residents finally emerged from this week.
There were only 444 cases on Wednesday, fewer than 1,600 daily infectious cases at the peak of the outbreak in September.
The state is expected to meet its 80 percent vaccination target by Sunday, paving the way for even more restrictions.
Asked if things are expected to “go through the roof” in the weeks following the reopening, Mr Perrottet said the government is still preparing for a significant spike but is confident health systems will be prepared.
“Based on the advice we have received from NSW Health, we believe that the number of cases and hospitalizations will naturally increase as mobility increases in the state,” he said.
“But we think in terms of the success we’ve had with vaccination coverage, it’s been incredibly gratifying to see the efforts of so many people in our state going out to get vaccinated, that that’s really going to help us in terms of vaccination.” hospital admissions, and ICU presentations.’
The Prime Minister said NSW is “far from home” and still faces significant challenges when it comes to the pandemic.
“But we’re opening in a deliberate and conservative way to make sure people are kept safe, but ultimately to keep people in work and businesses open,” he said.