NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has reflected on the “biggest regret” of his leadership, citing his communication during NSW’s Omicron outbreak in 2021.
Shortly after ascending to premier after Gladys Berejiklian’s resignation in October 2021, Mr Perrottet was criticised for his bullish “let it rip” approach to reopening NSW.
On Wednesday during Channel 9’s The Great Debate, Mr Perrottet said that while he stood by his policies, and the state’s vaccination statistics suggested businesses were ready to reopen, he could have communicated this better to NSW residents.
“I probably didn’t bring people with me early on in the days of the Omicron outbreak,” he said.
“We needed to open up our state. We needed to get kids back to school and I had the benefit of sitting in those crisis cabinet meetings every single day.
“The lesson I learned during that period was that I had to take people on the journey, not just say, ‘Here’s where we’re going’, but actually to work with them on getting to that destination.”
While the NSW Premier stood behind his policies around easing Covid-restrictions in 2021, he admitted he could have communicated his reasonings better. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Flavio Brancaleone
Asked the same question, Mr Minns said he wished he’d taken NSW Labor “closer” and had a “more united front” on challenges facing NSW at an earlier stage.
“We’ve done that as we get closer to the election campaign and I believe we’ve got a united, disciplined team as we get closer to polling day,” he said.
The NSW Premier and Opposition Leader have faced off in the fourth debate of the election campaign, with the March 25 polling date just more than a week away.
Mr Perrottet and Mr Minns butted heads on issues like rental affordability, the public sector wages cap, and financial management.
Dom quizzed on Sydney Water
The potential privatisation of Sydney Water was again heavily debated between the leaders after a secret dossier from March 2020 revealed the government had looked into privatising the public water entity.
Mr Minns claimed the government has a history of privatising state assets despite promises it wouldn’t.
“Don’t forget voters at home, don’t forget this last election, days before polling day (they said), ‘Nothing else will be privatised’,” Mr Minns said.
“As soon as the polls closed, the rest of WestConnex was sold off by the Liberal Party.”
Dominic Perrottet was once again forced to confirm he had no plans to privatise Sydney Water. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Jeremy Piper
Mr Perrottet said Mr Minns was peddling a “Labor lie”. Later he said there was “no need” to sell any more assets because of the government’s “strong financial position”.
“I‘ve made it very clear in this election campaign,” he said.
Minns asked about wages cap, debt position
Mr Minns was also quizzed on his promise to scrap the public sector wages cap, which the Coalition claims will create a budget black hole.
Mr Perrottet said wages already counted towards 40 per cent of the state’s budget and expenses would “spiral out of control” if the cap was removed.
Chris Minns said abolishing the public service wages cap was necessary to stop essential workers leaving their jobs. Picture: NCA NewsWire/ Gaye Gerard.
The Labor leader said essential workers were leaving their professions like “2500 constables who have left the police force”, plus 6500 nurses and 3000 teachers who have quit.
“Unless we could sit down and look at pay and conditions for essential workers in NSW, we’re going to go backwards, we will not improve,” he said.
Read related topics:Dominic PerrottetNSW State Election 2023