Did Kerry Chant Actually Endorse The Updated NSW Roadmap? It Depends Who You Ask
Chant was noticeably absent from Dominic Perottet's press conference on Thursday.
New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant was noticeably absent from Thursday’s press conference, in which new Premier Dominic Perrottet announced a slew of new changes to the state’s COVID-19 roadmap. Naturally, this has led some to speculate that she didn’t endorse the new roadmap.
“I have confirmed Dr Chant did not endorse this new roadmap,” 9 News political reporter Chris O’Keefe tweeted on Thursday night. “The Chief Health Officer warned the new Premier these changes come with risk, but the decision was ultimately a matter for the government. A shift from Perrottet away from “the health advice.”
However, NSW Deputy Premier Paul Toole has quickly hit back at this claim on Friday morning, saying that it simply “wasn’t the case.” “It was endorsed by Kerry Chant and it was endorsed by NSW Health,” he told Sunrise on Friday morning. “We had a crisis cabinet the day before and Kerry Chant was in that meeting. We don’t make decisions without the support of NSW Health and Dr Kerry Chant.”
New South Wales Health also provided a statement to Junkee stating that Dr Chant is one of many stakeholders who provide advice to the COVID and Economic Recovery Committee.
“The Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant regularly provides advice to the members of the COVID and Economic Recovery Committee,” a NSW spokesperson told Junkee. “All advice provided by NSW Health is carefully considered by Government, along with advice from a range of stakeholders. The specific discussions that take place at this committee are cabinet- in-confidence.”
The comments come after Perrottet asserted that “it’s also an economic crisis” when pressed on Chant’s absence yesterday, noting that he “sat down” with her to discuss what he calls “sensible amendments” to the roadmap.
NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard also asserted that the decision was given “full support”, which we can only assume includes that of the Chief Health Officer. “Anybody who wants to impute that it wasn’t well-considered or wasn’t given full support is just playing a silly media game,” he said on Thursday.
It’s also worth noting that Chant has previously made it clear that her role is to define public health objectives, but it is a “matter for how the whole of government puts input into it”.
“Our objectives of decreasing workplace attendances, decreasing the opportunity for interactions, is what we need to achieve. The matter for how that is done is really a matter for broader government,” Dr Chant said back in July, at the height of the outbreak. “Clearly we’re not the experts in logistic chains and other things and so we need that whole of government approach to determine what things are critical, what things are not.”
The AMA Is Not Happy At All
But while Chant has not directly criticised the revised roadmap, the Australian Medical Association did not hold back with its thoughts on Dominic Perrottet’s changes, asserting that the state is moving “too fast too soon.”
“We’ve got a new premier in the driver’s seat, but that’s not a good enough reason to deviate from the course previously set,” AMA NSW President Danielle McMullen said. “Keeping people safe must be the premier’s top priority.”
Chant provided a COVID-19 update via live stream on Friday, however, it’s worth noting that no media were present and no questions were allowed. “Please remember that it’s critical that you continue to wear your masks where they’re required, continue to maintain that physical distancing, and most importantly, not go out and about if you have COVID symptoms,” she said. “It’s an exciting time but I cautious us to do everything safely.”
Dr Chant is yet to directly comment on the allegations, so all we can do is speculate on her stance.