Transcript - Press conference NorthConnex

PRIME MINISTER: Welcome, everyone. It's wonderful to be here with the Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian, the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and Andrew Constance, the Minister for transport. 
 
This is a very important day for New South Wales and particularly for Sydney and more broadly across the country, because this is one of those big projects and we've been announcing a lot of new projects starting lately. But it's great to also be talking about projects that we've got done. Over 8,000 people will have been involved in important jobs here, building this incredibly important piece of infrastructure that will keep freight moving, that will keep people moving, get you home sooner and safer. Make sure you can meet the commitments that are being made with freight deliveries, taking big traffic off suburban roads and making a real difference to local residents. And what's also exciting about this project is not just the jobs, but it's the partnerships that have been formed, the partnerships between state, federal governments and together with the private sector to deliver once again incredibly important infrastructure. 
 
Our infrastructure works, our infrastructure programmes are so much part of the economic recovery that we are now embarked on as we come out of the COVID crisis. The works that we're doing together with the New South Wales government and many other governments around the country announcing further investments. Last Monday, I announced $1.5 billion dollars of additional investments on road safety projects and other bring forwards of projects with the Deputy Prime Minister. Infrastructure will be a key to jobs as we grow out of the Covid-19 recession. And I want to thank very much the Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, as a former transport minister, a former Treasurer and now Premier. And for myself, going through similar channels, starting off with immigration. But these projects, I think, has showed the continuity of application of the New South Wales government in getting these big projects done Gladys, and we've been so pleased to be a partner with you. I know our local members here up in northern Sydney and importantly, those up on the Central Coast, which will benefit greatly from this project, are thrilled. It's evidence of delivery on the ground by our governments and getting on with the delivery of these major projects. And so with that, I'll ask the Premier to make a few comments. Then we'll hear from the deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Transport. 
 
THE HON GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Great. Thank you, PM. It's always great to be here and welcoming a brand new piece of infrastructure in New South Wales, a collaborative project. State and federal government working together with the private sector to deliver this fantastic piece of a new tunnel, 9 kilometres, bypassing 21 traffic lights. I'm really excited by what this means for the people of the Central Coast. It will save at least half an hour a day, 15 minutes, at least each day. And many would argue even more when you sit in traffic above ground. And for local members and local residents in the vicinity of these tunnels at either end and above ground, it does mean less congestion, less freight. Most of the freight will be happening in-tunnel. So this is good news all round. 
 
And as I've been saying even before COVID, infrastructure equals jobs, projects equal jobs. It is so important for our economic recovery that we keep building and we've managed through COVID to keep all of our government based construction jobs going. And that's something we intend to accelerate. In addition to the federal government's acceleration programme, as you know, the New South Wales government kicked in an extra $3 billion dollars to accelerate some of those smaller and medium sized projects in New South Wales. But I'm thrilled to be here with the PM, the Deputy Prime Minister, Ministerial and parliamentary colleagues, from state and federal both levels, to celebrate what is a wonderful symbol of things moving forward, a wonderful symbol of how we’ll help our economic recovery, keep the jobs going, but also improve quality of life. Because at the end of the day, that's what a big transport project does. It reduces travel times, improves safety and improves quality of life. And that's what this is all about. 
 
THE HON MICHAEL McCORMACK, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR INFRASTRUCTURE, TRANSPORT AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT: Well, thank you, Premier, and acknowledge the Prime Minister and acknowledge Andrew Constance, the transport minister in New South Wales, I'd like to especially acknowledge too Paul Fletcher, and Julian Leeser, local members behind me. Local members who understand the importance of congestion busting infrastructure. And that's what this project is. $412.3 million dollars by both Commonwealth and the state governments in a $3 billion dollar project as Premier Berejiklian just said a 9 kilometre project. It's amazing to actually go through it and to consider, as I drove out here, how many sets of traffic lights along Pennant Hills Road we had to stop at and then start again. Well, that's not going to happen for the tradies, for the truckies, for the local motorists, who Paul and Julian represent so well in the federal parliament. They know that their local road is going to be freed up of much of that traffic. Thousands of trucks are off Pennant Hills Road and into the tunnel and making sure that we ease that congestion. And for those truckies and for those tradies and for people using the tunnel, they're going to get where they need to get sooner and safer. They're going to get their jobs done quicker. They're going to get that freight, that task that they do so diligently well, each and every day on behalf of all Australians done quicker. And so that's incredibly good. 
 
But what is also incredibly good is that you are, if you are in Newcastle and you want to drive to Melbourne, you can get there now that 1,028 kilometre journey without actually having to encounter a set of traffic lights. Just consider that, Newcastle to Melbourne without a set of traffic lights. That's infrastructure. That's delivery. That's what the Liberal and Nationals governments are doing at the federal and state level. And we're doing it because we want to build a better future. We want to build a better Australia. And that's what we're doing with each and every bit of our infrastructure. As the Prime Minister has just said, last week we announced $1.5 billion dollars of new money. And of course, today around the country, a lot of those bring forwards that we've asked the states to do are now being unveiled and announced. We're getting on. We're building better infrastructure, whether it's in the west of Sydney, whether it's in the metropolitan area here in Sydney, indeed, whether it's in rural and remote Australia, we’re building better infrastructure and we're building it so that Australians can get to where they need to be sooner and safer. 
 
I'd like to ask Andrew to make a few comments. 
 
THE HON ANDREW CONSTANCE, MINISTER FOR TRANSPORT AND ROADS: Well, thanks, everybody. This is a tunnel that's a life changer for everybody and to have the support of the Prime Minister and the Premier together, this has been years in the digging and it's now proved up to be an absolute game changer for everybody. Just echoing particularly that the fact that we've got state and federal members here, but particularly the benefits, to the central coast is going to be one in which it does benefit the tradies and our freight task particularly, in terms of Pennant Hills Road. It's one of the worst in the country in terms of congestion. And I know there's a 15 minute timesaving, but I bet it's more than that particularly on a Friday afternoon in the middle of the peak. We are going to see 5,000 trucks removed from local roads that grade. We're going to see tens of thousands of cars on this on this motorway very soon in the next couple of months. The tunnels cater for about a 100,000 vehicles, even potentially more. And it's just great in the knowledge that we've built this for the future. And we do, we must recognise our private sector partners who came to government with an unsolicited proposal many years ago. And together, the federal and state government working together have been able to deliver it in partnership. So that's a great outcome for everyone. 
 
PRIME MINISTER: Happy to take questions. Can I also thank, I'm sure the Premier will join me, the more than 8,000 people who were on the tools here. Thank you for their incredible efforts to bring this project about and and the companies that work closely with them to achieve that. And as I was discussing with Andrew in the bus on the way here, they'll be picking up their tools and they'll be applying them to new projects now, there's quite a great pipeline of projects here in New South Wales, Premier. So thank you. Happy to take questions. Yeah?
 
JOURNALIST: No hard hat, no PPE?

PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Oh it’s my fault, that’s my fault. 
 
PRIME MINISTER: I was following the premier's prerogative. Here we are. 
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: I take responsibility for that, yep.
 
JOURNALIST: What’s the [inaudible] behind the [inaudible] for truck drivers to use the tunnel, doesn’t that stop from [inaudible] doesn’t that take away from [inaudible]?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Well why would you go and build a tunnel if you're gonna have trucks not use it? I mean, that's why we put the penalty in place. We want the trucks off the streets and we want them down underground and away from those communities above ground. I think all the local members would tell you that, Liz. But the one thing I would observe is that a quarter of the accidents have been happening on Pennant Hills Road involve a truck. We've seen 360 accidents in the last 4 years. 122 of them have involved trucks. Unfortunately, 60 people have ended up in hospital as a result. So for us, it's not only about congestion, it's about safety. And that's why we're very keen to ensure that the trucks use the tunnel. There is going to be toll gantries above ground. They will pick up trucks who should be otherwise underground and there will be a penalty applied. So it's important. And those local trucks that need to do the deliveries, they're able to do so. 
 
JOURNALIST: If you want them to use the tunnel, why is it going to cost them $23.50 each time they use it?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Well, again, it's it's similar to the M2 in terms of the toll. But think about the wear and tear on trucks stopping at 21 traffic lights above ground. Think of the time savings. Think of the freight benefit. So, you know, we're going to see billions of dollars in uplift economically as a result of the time savings associated with NorthConnex. So it makes absolute sense economically and socially. And, you know, I'll reiterate, you know, particularly for people to be able to get home to their loved ones at the end of the day. This is the type of infrastructure which is life changing. It's more time with families. It's more time with kids, less time stuck in motor vehicles. And that's the great benefit of it. 
 
JOURNALIST: When is it actually going to be open?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Well it, in the next couple of months, what they're doing at the moment is just doing final testing on the fans, the mechanics and the electrics, speed signs and the like. They need to make sure it's right before you stick a car in it. And that's what they're doing. And we'll come back to you with a final date through Transurban very soon. But, you know, this is not years off now, it’s just a month or two. 
 
JOURNALIST: Given you are cutting fines in half for people on centrelink benefits, could you look at Transurban cutting its toll in half?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Well, let's just be clear in terms of the announcement yesterday, an application has to be made by the person doing it tough and it is considered. So, you know, I think that's really important, in terms of affordability we put a number of cost of living benefits in place through our rebates, including rebates on licences and rego to assist those who obviously, you know, are getting about. And the other thing about it is we still have the free road alternative for those who can choose to use that. We're not a government unlike Labor, who tunnel funnelled all their tollways. We're actually giving people, and maintaining the free option. 
 
JOURNALIST: Is it fair that somebody who breaks the law will have welfare benefits in half price -
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: As I said, there's an application process and approval process, and that's consistent with what has always existed. 
 
JOURNALIST: So nothing’s changed?
 
JOURNALIST: On the, can you talk us through the light installations, I mean someone might think that’s a distraction, what’s the [inaudible] lights?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Yeah, so, look, it's based on the European experience with long tunnels and it's designed to maintain the concentration of drivers. If you think about a nine kilometre tunnel looking at the same concrete walls, it's designed to actually alert drivers and keep them, their minds engaged with the driving in front of them. And that's why it's important, it’s based on European experience. And it's a measure that's been adopted here. And I think everyone would agree it's a feature of the tunnel, but it's also designed to improve people's concentration when driving along a 9 kilometre tunnel.
 
JOURNALIST: How much did these installations cost?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: I’d have to check on the exact cost in terms of that, but I mean, again, you know, we have seen a contribution made by the state and the Commonwealth. But, of course, because it was an unsolicited proposal brought forward by Transurban, you'd have to put that question to them.
 
JOURNALIST: Why won’t there be a toll free period for this road, and was it ever considered?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Again. You know, we don't, as we've seen with other examples, we're making improvements to the motorway network in Sydney at the moment. And again, you've seen improvements with the M1 further up the road. And I think the Deputy Prime Minister was there the other day in terms of the widening of the M1. But again, you know, ultimately people will still have the free road option. But, you know, ultimately, like WestConnex, we're just going to get on with the job, and obviously the [inaudible] concession over the length of the period needs to be in place. Infrastructure has got to be paid for. 
 
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on the coronavirus, obviously Victoria is going through some cases of community transmission in certain hot-spots, do you think it would be a good idea to support say hyper-local lockdowns of those areas that are experiencing community transmission or perhaps is it a time for Victoria to close their borders?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well, let me make this point first. We said there would be bumps along the road. We said there would not be zero cases. We said there would be outbreaks. So the fact that there are outbreaks should not come as a surprise. This is a Covid-19 pandemic that is intensifying around the world. And Australia still remains by a very long stretch in a very, very, very good position. And localised containment rings, rings of containment, have always been part of the plan, together with, of course, the isolation. The borders work. The contact tracing, and it's another timely reminder as to why people should be downloading the COVIDSafe app as they're moving around more and more in the community. And there is the localised responses. These were all the measures that we set out, both from the National Cabinet and directly from myself as our responses, our health system has been built up. The tracing capability here, particularly in New South Wales, is outstanding, and all other states, including the Commonwealth, will lend support as is necessary to other states and territories. That's Victoria presently. And I was speaking to the Premier of Victoria on the weekend and we talked through their responses. They have paused and where they are going to, to the next level. That's understandable in the circumstances. They have localised outbreaks where they're considering more stronger measures in those localised areas rather than having that extended across the state. That's sensible under the circumstances, and we'd hope that that would mean that some of those restrictions could be eased once the risk has passed. But this is a practise that's been placed, followed in other countries. Israel, for example, does exactly the same thing when they have localised outbreaks. And that's the way we live with Covid-19. This is part of living with Covid-19. And we will continue on with the process of opening up our economy and getting people back into work. But there will be setbacks from time to time. But we've built up the systems to deal with the setbacks. 
 
JOURNALIST: So you would support, and Victoria is going to look at implementing stronger restrictions potentially - in those type of local - 
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Premier's already mentioned that, the Premier has already flagged those responses.
 
JOURNALIST: Premier, has there been consideration of a Victoria - New South Wales border closure?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: No, I certainly have been briefed, I’m in regular contact with our health experts. The border between New South Wales and Victoria will continue to stay open. However, as is consistent with the health advice from Victoria and also New South Wales, nobody from New South Wales should be travelling to those hotspots at this present time. And people should consider whether they should be travelling to Melbourne at this point in time whilst community transmission is where it is. But certainly can I thank, in particular, the more than 8,800 people that came forward and got tested in New South Wales in the last 24 hours. That is a fantastic rate of testing for a weekend. And I'm so deeply grateful because I know many people in the community argue why some restrictions are in place and why that may seem inconsistent or otherwise. But they're working. So please keep respecting them. I'm so deeply grateful to our citizens. We only had two cases out of those, 8,800 one was in a returned traveller and the other one is still under investigation. It's a bit of an unusual case the other one, and it may prove not to be a case, but in any event, those numbers are heartening and we need to keep coming forward and getting tested with the mildest of symptoms. Please know that when you do have a situation, as Victoria's experiencing, we need to make sure we keep up to date with the advice on a daily basis. So the advice that, the strongest advice we have today is that you should not be travelling to those hotspots at all unless absolutely essential. But we recommend nobody travelling to those hot spots. And certainly the Victorian government and the Victorian health experts have also suggested to people living in those hot spots not to travel around and not to move anywhere and certainly not to go interstate. And that is their own advice in Victoria. And we obviously strongly endorse that. But we're also asking people to consider their trips to Melbourne as community transmission at the moment is higher than what what they would like. What we would like. But having said that, we said from the beginning, once you start easing restrictions, we will expect case numbers to go up. But it's a question of how you monitor them, how you clamp down on them, how you make sure people are coming forward to get tested. It would be wonderful to think that we’re through the pandemic, but we're not, we have to live with this until there's a cure or a vaccine. And it's how you manage these spikes that allows the community to keep being able to be active and working and having a good life, a good quality of life. And that is our intention. So I appreciate what Victoria's going through, but don't assume it won't happen in New South Wales or anywhere else. It can happen very quickly, just with a couple of cases, not, a couple of incidents of people spreading the virus unintentionally can can reduce it, can cause a spike. And we have to be very conscious of that. It's a good wakeup call for all of us. But again, I'm so deeply grateful for the number of citizens in New South Wales that keep coming forward, that keep respecting the restrictions as hard as it's been, at this stage we have no intention of changing our course in New South Wales. However, we do issue that travel warning, recommend people not travel to those hotspots that have been identified by the Victorian government and certainly consider travel to Melbourne at this point in time, given the hotspots. 
 
JOURNALIST: So are you recommending people do not travel to Melbourne, you’re saying consider travelling, should people if they’re looking to go to Melbourne for school holidays, should they go or should they stay [inaudible]?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Well, at this stage, the advice is do not travel to those hotspots at all. So do not go to those hotspots, reconsider your plans, reconsider what you're doing. But certainly Melbourne is a discretion. We would recommend people not at this stage travel to Melbourne unless they have to. However, that is, there is a level of discretion there. But the strong recommendation from the New South Wales government, including our health officials, is do not travel to those hotspots at all. And consider your travel to Melbourne at this stage. 
 
JOURNALIST: How can we stop infected Victorians coming here though, their school holidays are about to?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Well, that's why the health experts in Victoria themselves have said to all of their citizens in Victoria, do not travel interstate, especially if you're from those hotspot communities. So that's the message from Victoria Health. And that is certainly what the message that we endorse. And we say to people here, please, please note that if you have the mildest symptom, you shouldn't be leaving the house. You should be getting tested. You shouldn't be travelling anywhere. And especially unless you know you're COVID free. You shouldn't be travelling outside the state of Victoria. And that's certainly the advice coming from the Victorian government itself. 
 
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] that part of their problem is family spreads and that families aren’t taking it [inaudible] do you think that’s a problem here in New South Wales as well, [inaudible] been able to pick it up yet?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Well, our rate of testing is the highest in the nation and per head of population, New South Wales has by far the highest rate of testing, which we're incredibly proud of. That's what's allowed us to keep the community spread under control. But it also comes down to people doing the right thing. And you can't police what 8 million citizens do every day. We're relying on the goodwill of our citizens, coupled with the good advice from our experts and the good action from government and business. Business has been amazing, to see how COVIDSafe they've been in the main. Our businesses have been working so well under very difficult circumstances. So it's really been a community effort. Yes, you have rules and regulations and advice in place, but it also comes down to personal responsibility and people being responsible for their own actions. And I’m so pleased to date with the way in which our communities come together and really put in those hard yards. But please know that just a couple of people not respecting the rules can lead to spikes and can lead to things going backwards. And we don't want to see that in New South Wales. We've done so well so far. We've come so far in the last few months. Let's keep going by getting tested, by coming forward and getting tested. We've had record testing. I mean, last week we had days of, you know, 13, 14,000 people getting tested of a weekday. The fact that we nearly got 9,000 people tested on a weekend is outstanding. Please keep that up. It's keeping all of us safe. It's allowing us to continue to ease restrictions. And it's allowing us to stay on top of the pandemic at this point in time. 
 
JOURNALIST: [inaudible]
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Look, that's a matter for them. Clearly we think that every organisation should look at, look at its activities whenever there's a spike anywhere in the country. And if it was in New South Wales, I'd be giving the same advice. You should reconsider your activity. If there is a spike anywhere, that is that should be normal course. And look, New South Wales could be in this situation. Who knows in the future. And that's why the advice that we're giving in relation to Victoria would be no different from anybody else giving advice if it were in New South Wales. Every organisation who has any activity in and around Melbourne should reconsider its plans. Given the current situation, that is a normal course of action and I’d encourage all organisations to consider their plans whilst there is a spike in community transmissions. 
 
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister there are reports today some of your MP’s don’t want to see planned Super increase to go ahead, do you agree?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well the policy and the legislation is in place. But I can tell you what we're totally focused on at the moment as a government, is ensuring that we're getting these decisions around the JobKeeper and the JobSeeker programme and ensuring that they are best designed, and best calibrated to support people. And we are coming, going through right now this Covid-19 recession and the government is focussed on every single measure that can keep people in jobs and get people into new jobs. And so, you know, we have policies in place, if policies get reviewed at any point in time well, that's a consideration for that time. That's not something that's occurring at the moment. What we're doing right now is we are focussed on getting people back into jobs and reopening the economy is a critical part of that. Doing it safely is a critical part of that. I join the Premier in commending all the businesses that are getting themselves COVIDSafe and opening their doors. Those who have done the training that has been necessary to ensure that they know how to maintain the cleanliness of workplaces, to avoid the infections that occur. A lot of work's gone into that so people can open up their businesses. And that's why it's important that I think Australians have confidence that that work has gone into place, the protections are put in place. And then when we do have spikes and when we do have outbreaks, then they'll be dealt with and they'll be dealt with in a calm and considered way with the with the expert professional advice that we have and the tremendous work being done by our testers and our tracers and our chief health officers and our our chief medical officers who have guided all of our decisions.
 
JOURNALIST: Some states are offering payments for people who need to self-isolate and don’t have paid leave, would you like to see all states implement these measures?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well they’re matters for the states to take up. The Commonwealth is doing its bit with over $250 billion dollars of supports that have been put in place into the economy and will continue. We're doing that. We'll continue to do that as we've set that out. And I know states and territories have dealt with different challenges in their, in each of their areas as they've seen fit to do so. New South Wales has certainly been providing great support to the economy here in New South Wales. And I know other states have been doing similar things. So they'll make their own judgements on those. And I welcome it when they do. 
 
JOURNALIST: If we keep seeing outbreaks like this, would you consider extending JobKeeper and other payments further than the [inaudible]?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well, the government will be setting out its position on what occurs when those arrangements formally finish in September. That's when the legislation says they finish. And so we're working through those issues right now about how we continue to ensure there's the fiscal supports in our economy, the demand supports in our economy, the supports that help people stay in jobs and get new jobs, put them on a path to jobs. That includes everything from how we invest in skills where we've got a great partner in New South Wales on that front. How we're working our employment services to get people back into work where sadly they may have lost their job. And as we know, as the figures showed last week, devastating job losses across our economy. And we know there will be more. And so we'll keep doing everything that we can to ensure we can either get, keep people in real jobs where there is work to do or where because of the corona-recession, where they've lost their job, that we can work to get them trained up and skilled to get into a new job and that the economy is supported to create those new jobs. 
 
JOURNALIST: Why would states like Western Australia look at whats happening in Victoria, the questions about how borders are being handled up into New South Wales and think opening up now would be a good idea?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well, that's a matter for the Western Australian Premier. But again. We always said that we were not going for eradication of the virus. Other economies tried that. And their economy was far more damaged than ours. And so we have to ensure that we can run our economy, run our lives, run our communities alongside this virus, and until there's a vaccine, then that's what we have to contend with. And we can't just shut everything up forever. The economic impacts of that are devastating, and the states and territories working together as part of a unified National Cabinet have worked together like I've never seen a federation work before. States will make their own calls ultimately what's best in their best interests. But there will be outbreaks. There will be cases. What matters is that we've built the protections to deal with them. And that's what I want Australians to have confidence in. There will be cases. But the work that has been done to build up our defences, and that's why it's so important that people don't get complacent. This is, as the Premier said, a wakeup call. Australia has fared incredibly well compared to the rest of the world. But that cannot be cause for complacency. Covid hasn't gone anywhere. It's still out there, and it can still take hold. And so we can't be complacent about it and we certainly aren't as governments all around the country. 
 
JOURNALIST: Premier can I ask you on that point, [inaudible] situation Victorian border, is this a decision by you based on the medical advice you’re getting? Or the economic advice you’re getting? Or both?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Can I stress very clearly the prime motivator in all of the decision making in New South Wales has been based on the health advice and certainly that is the prime decision. But also, we want to be in a position where we still keep moving forward in New South Wales. Yes, there is risk. There always is risk. And so long as our citizens keep obeying the rules, keep coming forward and getting tested. We can continue to take small steps forward, which is what we are doing. But having said that, please listen to the health advice provided by our authorities in New South Wales, but also the Victorian health authorities. Their advice is do not travel to or from those hotspots. I can't be clearer than that. That is the advice coming from both New South Wales and Victoria. Do not travel to those hotspots and please make sure no matter where you live, do not leave the house if you have the mildest symptoms except to get tested and then stay home until you get the result and you're cleared. This is important. We have to live with this pandemic. We don't know how long it's going to last. It could be a year. It could be two years. It could be less than that. We don't know. But what we do know is that we need to live with it. And it means we need to make sure people are working and have a good quality of life, that our economy's moving, moving forward. And that's why we have to deal with these spikes as best we can, but also make sure that we do the right thing as we go along as well. 
 
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] broken ranks with the government on - 
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: I'm sorry?
 
JOURNALIST: Minister David Elliot has broken ranks with the government over planning policy, do you think it’s appropriate for a Cabinet Minister [inaudible]?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: We'll look, local, he's in in this capacity as a local member, he's raised his issues with the planning Minister as most of us do, and that's appropriate.
 
JOURNALIST: On the issue of fines, are you effectively subsidising bad behaviour?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Can I say very clearly that that's not an automatic, so any any reports today that that's an automatic discount is not correct. It has to be applied for. And there are already hardship plans in place. And as I understand it, this is the result of an amendment that was moved in the upper house last year when the legislation was going through parliament. So it's not automatic can I stress that. And there are there was already discretion in the system for hardship, and it certainly reinforces that. 
 
JOURNALIST: Well what exactly was announced Premier? Because it seems that everyone who spoke to, about this is essentially walking back from it saying that there is discretion and that it won’t [inaudible]?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Look my understanding is it's not automatic. That's the best advice I have, that it's you have to apply for it and that it was a result of amendments passed through legislation last year. 
 
JOURNALIST: Snow season opening up [inaudible] their plans?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Well, look, we've encouraged everybody to be COVIDSafe, whether you're a business, whether you're a patron, whether you're someone travelling, more than ever before when you're doing any activity outside of your home. Think about how COVIDSafe you are. Make sure you get tested if you have the mildest symptoms. And that applies to any activity, whether it's for pleasure or for business or for any other activity. We cannot be complacent. We cannot assume because of the case numbers in New South Wales that we're through the worst of it. We just don't know. We only have to look south of the border to see what's happened there. That could be us. If people don't do the right thing, we will go through those spikes. But we have to manage it as a nation, not just as a state. And we have to support our colleagues around the nation in dealing with this pandemic. And that is definitely the course that New South Wales is taking. 
 
JOURNALIST: Premier why won’t you ask the state Liberal party to resolve a dispute in the Baulkham Hills branch in one of Alex Hawke’s [inaudible]?
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Because they're matters for the organisation. 
 
JOURNALIST: Quick question for Andrew Constance  
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Like 5 questions ago, go Chris? 
 
JOURNALIST: [inaudible] pop-up bike lanes, when will they go?
 
MINISTER CONSTANCE: Well they’re temporary. But you know I want to reiterate this point. One of the things we've made clear with the transport plan is if you can walk or ride your bike or use your motor car, particularly during peak periods, that's what we need you to do. And we're facilitating pop up bike paths to encourage cycling. Cycling’s gone up 50 per cent in the last five years. And the feedback is very positive. So we will just continue that but they are temporary at the moment. And we just got to wait and see on them.
 
PREMIER BEREJIKLIAN: Thanks, everyone. 
 
[END]