NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has spectacularly dumped Health Minister Brad Hazzard’s bill seeking to expand the state’s Covid-19 emergency powers until 2023 following a bitter partyroom backlash.
Mr Hazzard had been seeking to extend the state’s emergency powers until March 2023 as part of a proposal approved by Cabinet. It was approved by cabinet but faced opposition during a meeting of the Coalition partyroom on Tuesday.
Mr Perrottet says he will rework the proposed legislation over summer. A senior minister told The Australian that many of the extraordinary powers being sought by Mr Hazzard would be removed from the bill, but sensible measures would be preserved.
A commenter at The Australian celebrates: “Faith in Perrottet restored.” I wouldn’t get that carried away. It’s smart politics in the lead-up to Christmas, clips the wings of a tiresomely arrogant health minister, doesn’t sour the gifting of ‘freedoms’ to vaccinated heroes and it buttresses Mr Perrottet’s carefully crafted image as the eastern seaboard’s goody to Daniel Andrews’ baddie. By keeping the bill’s “sensible measures,” however, the Premier once again camouflages a spectrum shift to the left with a merely comparative conservatism. Mark Latham isn’t fooled: “The new premier promised a restoration of freedom and we will hold him to that promise,” he tweeted.