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

Fiery moment when a reporter clashes with the health minister over photos of Gladys Berejiklian not wearing a mask outside a cafe – before the health minister has to step in to defend the NSW Prime Minister

  • NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard angrily defended Prime Minister Gladys Berejikilan
  • Comes after she was photographed outside a Sydney cafe with a mask in hand
  • Prime Minister and health officials grilled by reporters during fiery press conference
  • Mr Hazzard lashes out at reporter after question about clarity of new rules or

The NSW health minister snapped at a reporter when he defended Gladys Berejiklian for not wearing a mask during the coronavirus lockdown.

The NSW Prime Minister came under fire at a heated press conference on Monday after a photo of her was splashed onto 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, lawyer Arthur Moses, waited Sunday to pick up their coffee outside a cafe in Sydney.

This was hours after she changed public health regulations in the city to force incarcerated Sydney residents to wear masks when standing near food stores.

Gladys Berejiklian (pictured) came under fire at Monday’s press conference after she was pictured wearing a mask the day before while standing near a cafe

Reporters are grilling NSW health chief Kerry Chant for clarification on the new mask rules and someone asked how they could be enforced.

The question prompted Health Secretary Brad Hazzard to step in to lash out at the media and defend his boss.

“Seriously James. Taking the opportunity to try the prime minister’s private life by taking a photo when she was more than double where we are now is just folly,” he retorted.

He added that the “majority” of the media had been “very good” for the past 18 months during the pandemic before clarifying the new restrictions.

“We know that the health regulations are given as a guide to help the community through a very difficult time,” he said.

“Some are precise and some are not as precise as you might like, but common sense must prevail.”

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

“I heard nearly twelve months ago that a comedian, not a journalist, said why are we looking for loopholes instead of just making it work?” he said.

‘Common sense says to stay as far away from people as possible, being nine meters away is more than enough.

“Actually, if we’re talking about six feet and you need something that you could work on James, work five feet.”

NSW registered 98 cases Monday, 20 in the community the entire time they were contagious, while 37 had not yet been linked to the known cluster.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard (in the background) snapped at a reporter as he jumped to defend NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian

Health Minister Brad Hazzard (in the background) snapped at a reporter as he jumped to defend NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian

Ms Berejiklian said the number of cases active in the community, while contagious, was the number she was “really eager to give.”

“We need to get ahead of that number to bring the number of cases down to zero in the community,” she said.

Mr Hazzard was not alone in leaping to the Prime Minister’s defence.

Ms Berejiklian has been inundated with support from fellow Sydneysiders on social media, while KIIS FM breakfast radio host Kyle Sandilands also believes Ms Berejiklian has broken no rules.

“They’re whining because they say she’s not wearing a mask,” he told listeners.

“But she drinks a latte and so does the boyfriend—I’m fine with that.”

But the saga split audiences across the country in a Daily Mail Australia poll, where more than 50 percent believed Ms Berejiklian was doing the wrong thing.