NSW minister Don Harwin has been fined $1000 for breaching coronavirus restrictions after he was found to be staying at his holiday house on the state’s Central Coast instead of at his Sydney residence.
Yesterday it was revealed the Minister for Arts had been living at his million-dollar property in Pearl Beach despite authorities pleading for people to stay out of regional towns to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“Police have been given these powers to ensure the community spread of COVID-19 – which we know is devastating communities across the globe – is minimised,” NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said in a statement.
“No one individual or corporation is above these laws – anyone suspected of breaching the orders will be investigated and if a breach is detected, they will be dealt with in accordance with the Act. “
Photos revealed Mr Harwin was at his holiday home on Wednesday afternoon despite his principal place of residence being Sydney’s eastern suburbs.
“I took advice from my department officials about the Public Health Order to ensure I adhered to the guidelines during this period,” Mr Harwin said.
Earlier, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said Mr Harwin had not broke the rulees because he had moved before the rules came in.
However she was “deeply disappointed” in her colleague and reiterated that “nobody is above the rules”.
“I apologise on behalf of my team to the entire community,” she said.
“It is not just about sticking to the rules but it is also about being perceived back to the rules. He is either in Sydney or on his way back to Sydney.”
Ms Berejiklian said she learned of Mr Harwin’s location a couple of days ago and that “technically” he had not breached any rules as he had moved to the Central Coast home before restrictions came into play.
Mr Fuller had earlier warned Mr Harwin would receive a $1000 fine if his excuse “did not cut the mustard”.
Mr Harwin told News Corp he had been at the holiday home for about three weeks and in that time had only travelled to and from Sydney for a medical appointment.
The minister said he was at the holiday house for health reasons and added that his work-from-home arrangements on the Central Coast were better than in his small apartment in Sydney.
NSW Labor Shadow Treasurer and Shadow Minister for the Arts Walt Secord called for Mr Harwin to be fired over the indiscretion.
He said Ms Berejiklian “should sack him, or he should resign”.
Mr Secord also called for Mr Harwin to be fined the $1000 penalty that applies to those ignoring the rules.
Mr Secord cited similar instances overseas such as the NZ Health Minister being demoted for going to the beach during lockdown, saying Mr Harwin should be held to similar account.
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