GIVE US BACK OUR DEMOCRACY

Covid Crisis Demands Honesty, Transparency & Accountability from Government: a statement from your Greens MPs.

We need our democratic processes and well-resourced public services and institutions now more than ever. The Covid-19 health crisis has highlighted existing inequities within our communities and, in particular, for First Nations peoples. The path out of this crisis requires a whole-of-society, and whole of government approach, driven by care and compassion.

The Greens call upon the NSW Liberal-National Government to provide our communities transparent, honest, and accountable governance during the public health response to the Covid pandemic and the escalating Delta outbreak.

We call for all governments to join together and provide a universal living wage for everyone who cannot, or should not, go to work because of the pandemic. Giving people dignity and support and paying them to stay at home and safe during this and any future lockdown must be a central part of the public health response.

We share the concern of many about an increasing lack of transparency and accountability from the Government in the decisions being made in response to the escalating Covid crisis. We know these are intense times, and everyone is struggling to deal with the realities of this pandemic, but this is not an excuse that those in charge get to hide behind.
At this critical time, we must be able to trust that the decisions being made by our elected representatives are in our best interests. Trust in our democratic institutions is crucial to the success of vaccination programs and the public health guidelines being adhered to.

From the government’s repeated refusal to release the public health advice that they relied upon to lockdown certain LGAs in June, the imposing of very concerning curfews and limits on exercise in select LGAs, to the extraordinary decision last Friday by the Premier to stop holding daily Covid briefings, the Government has treated public accountability with contempt throughout this outbreak.

As with many public health experts, including the Australian Medical Association and the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association, we are concerned that our nurses, doctors and paramedics are under enormous strain which will only get worse once restrictions are lifted. They must be supported with more resources, including adequate staffing and better pay and conditions. We offer our gratitude and support to all frontline health and community workers, as well as those risking their health to do essential work to ensure everyone is cared for and has what they need.

We also share the community’s concerns about the punitive measures that have seen NSW Police attempt to arrest their way out of this pandemic, as well as the attempts to shift blame for the bungled vaccine roll out and other failures of government on to those living in hot spots.

We call on the Premier to:
- reinstate the daily Covid press briefings to ensure the government remains accountable to the public and the media for their decisions
- commit to return the NSW Parliament, in line with Parliament’s detailed Covid-safe for sittings, including the trial of a partially-virtual parliament with a bare minimum of MPs and staff present
- release modelling to support pubs and clubs opening before schools
- release the health advice relied upon by the government in making the decision to lockdown certain Sydney LGAs at the time they did
- work with the federal government to provide a living wage to everybody who cannot, or should not, be working so that they can stay home and safe during the crisis

The Government is asking the people of NSW to trust them, to live by the decisions it is making in this crisis. That trust can only be given if we know that our democratic institutions are able to do the job of scrutinising those decisions. Accountability through parliament and the media is absolutely essential at this time.

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