Brad Hazzard made a bizarre joke about Premier Dominic Perrottet’s large family in one of two awkward moments at a NSW Covid press conference.
The open air briefing in the Sydney suburb of St Leonards had to be temporarily halted due to a very close and extremely loud helicopter.
After the helicopter took off Mr Hazzard resumed speaking about rapid antigen tests, but what he said next went off script.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet and his wife Helen pictured with four of their six children. A seventh is on the way
‘The premier did just say through that helicopter noise that he’s going to make it a fun exercise teaching his kids how to use rapid antigen tests at home.
‘So, good luck to the premier and his six and a half children.’
The health minister laughed awkwardly at his own joke remark, which failed to gather much mirth from the rest of those present.
Mr Perrottet tried to ease concerns of parents anxious about sending their kids to school during the Omicron outbreak, saying plenty of protective measures would be in place to keep children safe from the virus.
‘I know many parents across the sate are anxious about the return to school,’ he said.
‘We have put everything in place to ensure that we can have our schools open in a safe way.’
Helen Perrottet (pictured) with two of her six children with husband Dominic Perrottet
The premier stood by his decisions to only send students home if they have tested positive, keep classrooms open, and shift focus away from contact tracing.
‘This is the right approach for the circumstances that we are in today,’ he said.
‘We know in the main that Omicron is less severe, we have seen that, it is more transmissible but less severe.
‘We have a highly vaccinated population, and yes, as a parent as well I know that many parents across the state are anxious about sending it back to school, many teachers are anxious.’
An extra two million rapid antigen Covid-19 will be delivered to NSW schools before lessons resume for 2022 – adding to the five million that have already been distributed.
Two test kits per week will be issued to pupils and staff across 3,000 primary and secondary schools throughout February. Early education and childcare centres are also included in the scheme.
Helen (left) and Dominic (right) Perrottet on their wedding day. The couple has since had six children
Mr Perrottet and his wife Helen are both Catholic and have six children, with a seventh on the way – which was the ‘six and half’ that Mr Hazzard referred to.
The 39-year-old was elected to the NSW Parliament at the March, 2011 state election when the Liberal-National Coalition won in a landslide after 16 years of Labor rule.
In his maiden speech he referred to growing up surrounded by siblings.
‘I had the privilege of growing up in a large family. I am the third of 12 children. As you may imagine, my mother ran a very tight ship,’ he said.
‘But with so many of us around, she realised very quickly she could not get everything done by herself.
‘I polished 12 pairs of shoes in summer. I packed 12 lunches in autumn. I changed 1,200 nappies in winter and then changed them again in spring.’
When he became premier, the size of his and his wife’s own family became a hot topic with many wondering how they will juggle raising six young children while occupying the highest office in the state.
Soon after, Mr Perrottet announced that the number was going to increase.
‘Exciting family news. Our family photo wall is going to need another frame! Helen and I are thrilled to announce we have a little girl due next year,’ he wrote on Facebook.
‘With five sisters already, William is looking on the bright side – more bench depth on the family basketball team.’
Helen Perrottet is a former Australian Federal Police officer, worked in public relations for the Australian Defence Force, studied the law at night and is now a high-powered solicitor.
The Perrottet’s children are Charlotte, Amelia, Annabelle, William, Harriet and Beatrice.
Dominic Perrottet (right) with his wife Helen (left) attend the Australian premiere of Hamilton at Lyric Theatre, Star City on March 27, 2021 in Sydney
In his maiden speech on May 31, 2011, the future Premier said though he may not have been able to choose his parents, ‘I certainly chose my wife. And I chose very well’.
Mr Perrottet said his path to becoming elected to parliament had contained many peaks and troughs and that ‘throughout all of this my beautiful wife, Helen, has been there’.
‘She has supported me, advised me, and importantly been there to listen. Darling, you are my rock, and without you I would not be here today,’ he said.
More than a decade on, Mr Perrottet again thanked his wife and family upon his ascension to the top job, repeating: ‘To my wife, Helen, and my kids, without your love and support, I would not be here today’.
NSW health minister Brad Hazzard mades a joke about Dominic Perrottet having six children after their press conference was awkwardly delayed by a helicopter