Covid-19 Australia Sydneysiders in the city’s west devastated at lockdown snub by Gladys Berejiklian
Furious locals trapped by lockdown and curfews in Sydney’s south-west say they have been abandoned by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who has told them she’s ‘too busy’ to discuss the fight against Covid with them.
They say Ms Berejiklian hasn’t been seen in the west since the pandemic began more than 18 months ago – and hasn’t made the effort to visit the 12 Local Government Areas she’s subjected to brutal lockdown restrictions, including a 9pm curfew and just one hour’s exercise per day.
Mayors from the 12 LGAs claim that an invitation for her to come meet them was dismissed by her office on Tuesday because her diary was too full.
‘I’m furious. It’s an insult to our communities,’ said Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour. ‘Being busy isn’t acceptable. This is what should be keeping her busy.’
Furious locals trapped by lockdown and curfews in Sydney’s west say they have been abandoned by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian who is ‘too busy’ to to see them. (Pictured, Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour and LGNSW President Linda Scott)
Mayors in LGAs of concern say Ms Berejiklian hasn’t been seen in the west since the pandemic began, despite imposing brutal lockdown restrictions that are wrecking their lives. (Pictured, an woman shopping in Granville on Wednesday)
The local community leaders had hoped the meeting would be a chance to work together with the state to improve the effectiveness of the fight against Covid.
The state confirmed another 1,116 new Covid cases and four more deaths overnight with Sydney’s Covid lockdown siege now in its ninth week and 12 LGAs still under tighter rules than the rest of the city.
The 12 LGAs of concern are Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and some suburbs of Penrith.
Those councils cover around 2.5million residents who are under curfew between 9pm and 5am and allowed out to exercise for just an hour day. Only essential workers can leave their council area and must get tested frequently.
Community leaders in the west can help make make lockdown restrictions work better if they were consulted, says Local Government New South Wales President Linda Scott (pictured)
Locals are ‘shocked, angry and frustrated’ at the Premier’s refusal to leave the leafy suburbs of Sydney’s North Shore to see the harsh realities of lockdown life in the west for herself.
‘She hasn’t been around here for months – since before this pandemic started,’ said Mr Asfour.
‘She doesn’t to hear our stories. We want some light at the end of the tunnel
‘She should come out and see and hear the stories that we’re hearing every day. It might help her when she’s making decisions that affect us.
Locals are now ‘shocked, angry and frustrated’ at the Premier’s refusal to leave the leafy suburbs of Sydney’s North Shore to see the harsh realities of lockdown life in the west. (Pictured, Bankstown residents sitting in a park on Tuesday)
‘She needs to personalise it because everyone here is struggling, individuals are hurting.
‘We have mothers, fathers and children in three different hospitals, people trying to isolate in the same homes, people unable to get food, people needing support whether its food vouchers, clothes, finances…
‘There are people stuck at home while their businesses crumble, the mental health issues – people are doing it tough.
‘There’s a whole heap of problems here, which are being faced by our community and she just doesn’t want to seem to listen. She’s not listening.
An invitation for Premier Gladys Berejiklian to meet the 12 mayors of the worst affected areas was dismissed by her office on Tuesday afternoon because her diary was too full. (Pictured, a resident in Sydney’s Inner West walking a dog on Wednesday)
Locals have been frustrated by vaccination hubs with long queues for Pfizer, like this one pictured at Bankstown PCYC, while another delivering AstraZeneca shots lies almost empty
‘Come and feel what your people feel. You represent us and we’re all meant to be in this together and we’re all equal.
‘It’s not such a hard thing – we’re only 25 minutes away from her office.’
The invitation to meet was rejected by the Premier’s office who forwarded the request to the Minister of Local Government instead.
‘I hope you will appreciate the Premier receives a significant number of diary requests and she is unable to accept them all,’ a government staffer replied.
‘On this occasion, the Premier will be unable to accept your meeting request.’
An invitation for Premier Gladys Berejiklian, pictured, to meet the 12 mayors of the worst affected areas was rejected by her office on Tuesday afternoon because her diary was too full
The invitation to meet was forwarded to the Minister for Local Government instead. (Pictured, the email from Ms Berejiklian’s office)
The hour-long online summit was intended to tackle lockdown issues constructively with input from people on the frontline.
Locals have been frustrated by vaccination hubs being based in areas far from public transport, and other hubs with long queues for Pfizer while another delivering AstraZeneca shots lies almost empty.
‘We’re not necessarily looking for more Pfizer doses – but just for the hubs to share the Pfizer doses so people can get their jabs quicker,’ said Mr Asfour.
‘You gave the sports club that only offers Astra Zeneca and they’re getting if you’re lucky, 50 people a day. But the PCYC offers Pfizer and gets 2500 a day.
Bankstown mayor Khal Asfour, pictured, said the premier was making decisions from her ‘ivory tower’ and needed to see life under lockdown in the west
The mayors of the 12 LGAs fear they are being treated harshly compared to other parts of Sydney. (Pictured, a swimmer emerging from the water at Bondi on Monday)
‘We’ve asked why can’t you give some of the Pfizer to the sports club so people don’t have to queue around the corner – and NSW Health just goes silent.’
Another vaccine hub has been set up at Parramatta Park which is far from any public transport which means people have to drive there – but many households in the west have just one car, which is often used by authorised workers, or none at all.
‘These are practical barriers that these communities are facing that can be resolved by using local knowledge that mayors and councillors have,’ said the president of Local Government NSW, Linda Scott.
‘These are the kinds of solutions that we’re trying to work towards. She needs to come out of hiding. It will benefit the whole of the state.’
But Mr Asfour blasted: ‘They make decisions from their ivory tower and they don’t realise the impacts those decisions have on communities like ours.
‘At least take our input, but they don’t even do that. They make a decision which doesn’t work on the ground, and then they have to change it and play catch up.
‘It can all simply can be avoided if you just talk to us first. We’re here to help as well. We’re not here to play political games. It just doesn’t make sense.’
But the mayor claims the lockdowns are being politically targeted and sustained to protect the premier’s political ambitions.
Some parts of Sydney remain under the tightest lockdown restrictions despite daily case numbers falling below other areas which have more relaxed restrictions. (Pictured, closed shops in Bankstown)
Some of the local government areas of concern now have lower daily case numbers than other areas of Sydney outside of the identified hotspots – but still remain under the tightest restrictions.
‘The half of Penrith that’s not in the harshest lockdown has now got more daily cases than three or four of the hotspot LGAs put together,’ said Mr Asfour.
‘It’s political. There’s no other answer. The half of Penrith that isn’t in full lockdown is a Liberal seat and the half that is in the tightest lockdown is the Labor seat.
‘It shows you how decisions are being made.’
The communities in Sydney’s west and south-west now fear they will be forced to remain in lockdown while the restrictions are lifted in the city’s coastal suburbs.
Locals in the west said it would be ‘devastating’ if restrictions are removed for Sydney’s coastal suburbs while the west remains in lockdown misery. (Pictured, beach-goers at Bondi on Monday)
Khal Asfour believes the premier has been making some lockdown decisions based on political reasons. (Pictured, a woman exercising in Sydney’s Inner West on Wednesday)
‘That would be devastating for our community,’ said Mr Asfour. ‘It would prove how our parts of Sydney are being treating differently to other parts of Sydney.
‘It’s a tale of two cities and this division really makes people upset and angry around here.’
He added: ‘She talks about being the premier for all of us, yet her decisions seem to always help alleviate pressures on on other parts of Sydney.
‘She’s contained the virus in her part of the world yet we’ve been punished for it with curfews. It’s not a two way street.
‘We’re not really all in this together.’
Premier Gladys Berejiklian insisted she had already been meeting with community leaders in the west and would continue to do so. (Pictured, a hospital worker at Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on Wednedsay)
At Wednesday’s daily Covid briefing, Ms Berejiklian vowed to lift most restrictions for those with two jabs once the state hits 70 per cent double dose vaccination.
And she insisted she had already been meeting with community leaders in the west and would continue to do so.
At Wednesday’s daily Covid briefing, Ms Berejiklian confirmed another 1116 new Covid cases and four more deaths
‘I’ve not advertised how many times I’ve spoken virtually to community leaders, but I’ve done it every day, almost,’ she said. ‘And I’ll continue to do that.
‘I want all the community members to know that no matter where they are, we will engage with them, we will continue to listen to them, continue to seek their advice.’
She added: ‘What we’re asking people to do in those areas of concern is onerous. It is difficult and stressful.
‘And I’ll be the first one to go the other way as soon as we get the green light. Getting the balance is difficult and challenging.’