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Western Sydney mayors call for apology after bombshell documents released on Covid lockdown

Western Sydney mayors have accused the NSW government of lying to them about coronavirus health advice and called for Premier Dominic Perrottet to publicly apologise.

Bombshell documents released on Monday revealed the Berejiklian government ignored advice to enforce Covid-19 restrictions evenly across the city during the recent lockdown.

An email sent by NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant to Health Minister Brad Hazzard on August 14 showed she recommended “consistent measures across greater metropolitan Sydney”.

But the extra-tough lockdown rules for 12 local government areas in Sydney’s west and southwest were not brought in line with the rest of the city until September 20.

Canterbury-Bankstown Mayor Khal Asfour said on Tuesday the rules were “absolutely unfairly targeted” and accused the government of deliberately lying about being “all in this together”.

“I think Premier (Dominic Perrottet) needs to come out today and publicly apologise for the treatment of our communities,” he told Sunrise.

“I think a public inquiry needs to be held. We don’t want this ever happening again.”

He said he had a new-found respect for Dr Chant, who he claimed had been “bullied” by the government into keeping quiet about her advice.

Camera IconThe NSW government kept most of Kerry Chant’s advice secret. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

The NSW government kept most of Dr Chant’s advice secret until Labor MPs recently managed to access parts of it through an order in parliament.

Sydney’s latest lockdown began in the last weekend of June after an airport transport breach caused the Delta variant to spread throughout the city.

Although the outbreak began in the eastern suburbs, the spread soon got worse in the city’s west, where police began a major crackdown by the second week of July.

By the time Dr Chant wrote her August 14 email, the rules had tightened several times in an expanding area of western and southwestern Sydney, where the virus was spreading the fastest.

Fairfield Mayor Frank Carbone said on Tuesday he wasn’t surprised that western Sydney had been “divided and treated differently”.

“It’s not like there was a magical wind from Bondi that brought Covid in or blew it over,” he told Sunrise.

“There is no doubt that at 11am every morning, we were getting told this was the health advice but it was clear this was the political advice.

“People were treated differently. This had repercussions on our communities and what I’m interested in is making sure the government now fixes the problem.”

Camera IconFormer NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian consistently said she was acting on health advice during the Delta lockdown. NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw Credit: News Corp Australia

New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics released on Monday revealed that parts of Sydney subject to the toughest restrictions emerged from the lockdown with the highest rates of unemployment in the city.

Mr Carbone said it was important the government did not forget about western Sydney now that the lockdown was over.

“Out here in Fairfield, we have a hospital that has been rundown and did not cope when Covid hit. We need a big investment in jobs,” he said.

“During a pandemic, politics should be left aside, people should be treated the same and Covid has not gone away. We need to be united in the fight and tackle it together.”

Mr Perrottet’s office has been contacted for comment.

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