Opinion: Leaders evasive on Covid response

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and the Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant.

It's a tough gig, trying to keep on top of a pandemic that's slippery like an eel. One day, you think you have it cornered on a Sydney peninsula. The next, it's slithered from your grasp, and turned up in another city - in our case, Wollongong. As a leader in these difficult circumstances, the last thing you want is to appear slippery yourself.

Unfortunately, that's the perception gaining ground, justifiably or not, as each new update is delivered by the NSW Premier and the Chief Medical Officer. You could sense it on Wednesday when a couple of tough but reasonable questions appeared to be batted aside.

One concerned a church which a reporter claimed had persisted with the practice of inviting the congregation to kiss a bible. Rather than directly saying such practices ought to be paused for the duration of the pandemic, we were treated to waffle about how grateful the authorities were for the cooperation they'd enjoyed from churches and other religious groups.

Another reporter asked how it was anyone at an outdoor cinema at the same time as an infectious person had been urged to come forward for testing but it was OK for a crowd of 24,000 to gather to watch the test at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January.

Again, it was fumbled with bland assurances about the COVID-safe plan put in place for the event and the fact it was outside and much less of a risk than a household gathering. Yet at the same briefing, people intending to gather in groups (reduced across Greater Sydney and Wollongong from 50 to 30) outside were told to ensure those groups did not get too close together because that created risk of virus transmission.

One hopes there is good scientific reasoning behind something which, superficially at least, looks dangerously inconsistent. One wishes the messaging around it was clearer and more convincing.

We don't for one moment envy Gladys Berejiklian or Dr Kerry Chant for the huge task face they face. But we do ask that they answer questions with a straight bat and if they don't have ready answers, admit it. Better to look honest than slippery.

This story Opinion: Just answer the COVID questions first appeared on Bega District News.