It’s simply not good enough for a leader to take off on the worst day of the covid crisis so far, with so much at stake and such little progress made.
When the going gets tough … Gladys Berejiklian takes a day off?
On the worst day so far of the Covid-19 crisis in New South Wales, when 319 new cases were recorded and five people lost their lives, in the seventh week of a horror lockdown with no end in sight, the premier was nowhere to be seen.
Is she at the wheel, throwing everything she can at this disaster, with her eyes on every available option to steer Australia’s largest city and most critical economy through this crisis?
Or is she having a lazy lie-in, ducking out for a coffee with her new squeeze, binge-watching the new season of Never Have I Ever or getting a start on her sourdough starter?
We can’t say because she wasn’t at today’s coronavirus briefing today, of all devastating days, and it was a total trainwreck in her absence.
While Gladys took a breather, her rambling Health Minister Brad Hazzard popped out instead for an absolute masterclass in how not to communicate.
He spoke without pausing for almost 10 minutes about websites that don’t yet exist, food stalls at vaccine hubs and HSC students preparing for jabs, before eventually getting to the news that really matters.
The sheer number of new cases of covid – and the number of those infectious in the community before testing positive and isolating.
Oh, and he almost forgot to mention that five more people are dead in the past day, as though they were unimportant afterthoughts.
Then, he half-announced the immediate lockdown of the regional city of Armidale as though he’d only just remembered that crucial detail too.
It had many of us wondering … where the hell is Gladys?
How can she and her advisers possibly think it’s acceptable to enjoy a sunny Saturday when so much is at stake and so little progress has been made?
Say what you will about Daniel Andrews, but at least Victorians had their Premier show up every single day of their lockdowns to deliver the bad news and guide them through what came next.
He was remorseful and compassionate about the loss of life. He was stern but reassuring about the effort needed to get back on track.
In Gladys’ absence on today of all days, downtrodden and lockdown weary New South Welshmen (and women) were left with a poor man’s headmaster to lecture us about not doing the right thing.
It’s just not good enough to have a breather when millions of people are locked in their homes, separated from loved ones and isolated from the world, with no hope on the horizon, as businesses go the wall, people lose incomes and the economy collapses around us all.
Will we be free by Christmas? Why aren’t numbers coming down? How much longer can we hold on? There’s cold comfort today for those grappling with those dire concerns.
Gladys has a big, draining and unimaginably gruelling job and the daily criticism from the press gallery about her handling of this outbreak is no doubt unpleasant.
Sure, she deserves a bit of time away from the harsh spotlight from time to time to regroup and ensure she’s at the top of her game to give her people the best she can.
But is the worst day of the coronavirus battle the right time to exit stage left? She would’ve known on Friday night that a crushing blow awaited her state in the morning.
To step away from the crisis as leader is a big ask of your people and it requires the right timing.
And if you must, perhaps consider sending out someone a bit more capable of delivering a message.
Shannon Molloy is a News Editor at news.com.au