Coronavirus Australia: Reporter clashes with minister over Gladys Berejiklian mask saga

Fiery moment a reporter clashes with health minister over pictures of Gladys Berejiklian not wearing a mask outside of a café – before health minister has to step in to defend the NSW premier

  • NSW health minister Brad Hazzard angrily defended Premier Gladys Berejikilan
  • Comes after she was photographed outside a Sydney café with mask in hand
  • Premier and health officials grilled by reporters at a fiery press conference
  • Mr Hazzard lashed out at reporter after a question about clarity of new rules  

The NSW health minister has snapped at a reporter as he jumped to the defence of Gladys Berejiklian for not wearing a mask during coronavirus lockdown.

The NSW Premier came under fire at a heated press conference on Monday after a photo of her was splashed across the front page of a Sydney newspaper.

The Daily Telegraph photo showed Ms Berejiklian holding her face mask in her left hand as she and her new boyfriend, barrister Arthur Moses, waited to collect their coffee outside a Sydney café on Sunday.

This was hours after she changed public health orders in the city to force locked-down Sydney residents to wear a mask when standing near food shops.

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) came under fire at Monday’s press conference after she was pictured a day earlier not wearing a mask while standing near a cafe

Reporters grilled NSW chief health Kerry Chant for further clarity about the new mask rules and one asked how they could be enforced.

The question prompted health minister Brad Hazzard to jump in to lash out at the media and defend his boss.

‘Seriously James. Taking an opportunity to have a go at the premier’s private life by getting a photo when she was more than double where we are from you now is just silly,’ he fired back.

He added the ‘majority’ of media were ‘very good’ over the the last 18 months during the pandemic before going on to clarify the new restrictions.

‘We know that the health orders are given as a guide to help the community get through what is a very difficult time,’ he said.

‘Some of them are precise and some of them are not as precise as perhaps you would like, but common sense must prevail.’

Mr Hazzard then aimed another potshot at the reporter who asked the question.

‘I heard now nearly 12 months ago a comedian, not a journalist, said why are we looking for the loopholes rather than just making it work?’ he said.

‘Common sense says stay away from people as far as possible, if you are nine metres away, that is more than adequate. 

‘Actually if we are talking about 1.5m social distancing and you need something you could work on James, then work on 1.5m.’

NSW recorded 98 cases on Monday, 20 in the community the entire time they were infectious while 37 were not yet linked to the known cluster. 

Health minister Brad Hazzard (in background) snapped at a reporter while jumping to defend NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Health minister Brad Hazzard (in background) snapped at a reporter while jumping to defend NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian

Ms Berejiklian said the number of cases active in the community while infectious was the number she was ‘really keen to nudge’ lower.

‘We need to get ahead of that number in order to reduce the number of cases in the community to zero,’ she said.

Mr Hazzard wasn’t the only one to jump to the premier’s defence.

Ms Berejiklian was inundated with support from fellow Sydneysiders on social media, while KIIS FM breakfast radio host Kyle Sandilands also believes Ms Berejiklian had not broken any rules.

‘They’re having a whinge because they say she’s got no mask on,’ he told listeners.

‘But she’s drinking a latte and so is the boyfriend – I think that’s alright.’

But the saga divided the public across the country in a Daily Mail Australia poll, where more than 50 per cent believed Ms Berejiklian did the wrong thing.