Premier sets up ‘war cabinet’ as virus spreads across NSW
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has set up a coronavirus "war cabinet", which will hold its first meeting today.
It will include key ministers such as Treasurer Dominic Perrottet, Health Minister Brad Hazzard, Attorney-General Mark Speakman and Police Minister David Elliott to enable rapid decisions to tackle the COVID-19 virus.
The move comes after the Premier told key ministers not to attend a planned community cabinet meeting on the far south coast tomorrow, which had been organised in the wake of the bushfire crisis.
"She wanted her key ministers to be in Sydney," a government source said.
The insider said the Premier would still be attending the region as promised.
The state government will this week release a stimulus package with a focus on employment. In order for NSW to avoid sliding into recession, the effect of the stimulus must be felt from April 1 and continue for at least a six-month period.
It is understood the measures will be released early this week after being signed off by the Premier.
The government has been criticised for delaying its release, with Labor noting how Victoria held a special cabinet meeting yesterday to introduce its own measures.
Labor treasury spokesman Walt Secord noted how South Australia, Queensland and the federal governments as well as the US, China, Germany and Canada had announced assistance packages.
"We are in extraordinary times and in extraordinary circumstances," Mr Secord said.
Mr Perrottet, who has been working on the stimulus package for weeks, described the impact of virus as a "temporary economic shock", although he acknowledged that it would have a "significant negative impact" on the June Budget.
With NSW "more exposed" than other state's economically, given it is the biggest state with greater international connections, the focus was on protecting jobs and keeping people safe, he said.
"If we can support the health system and lessen the impact of COVID-19, that will help the economy," Mr Perrottet said.
"Some industries are doing it very tough and we have seen that happen, but we want to ensure this is more of a temporary economic shock and we can turn the corner."