Plan to cut daily NSW updates draws ire
The NSW government is under pressure to back down from plans to scrap the state's daily public briefings, weeks before the COVID-19 crisis is expected to peak.
Since the current outbreak was detected, the premier, chief health officer and an array of ministers have held a press conference at 11am each day, live-streamed to tens of thousands, updating the public.
Gladys Berejiklian has announced that from Monday, the updates will be replaced by a video from NSW Health, to communicate the new case numbers and issues of the day.
"Myself and (Health Minister Brad) Hazzard or any other relevant minister will present to the community on a needs basis," she said.
With a record 1599 cases announced on Saturday, as well as eight deaths, and the impact on the state's health system not due to peak until October, state opposition leader Chris Minns says it is not the time to cut the number of briefings.
They give the community clear information on the outbreak and any restrictions, and provide a level of accountability while parliament is unable to sit, he said.
"If the premier has other priorities, that is fine, it can be fronted by the deputy premier or the treasurer or the minister for health - that's what's happened over the last 12 weeks."
"But we can't deny the fact that we are entering one of the most difficult and worrying periods of the entire pandemic."
Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese, who lives in Sydney's inner west, also criticised the move.
"I do find it jarring that on the day in which nine deaths were announced and record numbers of infections, accountability went backwards, not forwards," he told reporters on Saturday.
But Mr Hazzard defended the government's decision.
The health team needs "clear air" to think through the COVID-19 response and reducing the frequency of the media conferences will hundreds of hours each week, he said on Saturday.
"There is a massive team of people getting ready, drawing in all the information, we then are in here probably three or four hours beforehand," he said.
"That time is taken out from the time we need to do the things you want us to do."
"We will still have press conferences ... they might not be absolutely every day."
© AAP 2021