Australia NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin fined $1000 for trip to holiday home

20:04  09 april  2020
20:04  09 april  2020 Source:   smh.com.au

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Don Harwin © AAP Image Don Harwin NSW Arts Minister Don Harwin has been fined $1000 by police for breaching social distancing laws after visiting his Central Coast holiday home last month.

Police say they issued the fine after they were alerted to the fact the 55-year-old had relocated to a holiday home at Pearl Beach "in contravention of current Ministerial Direction under the Public Health Act".

"As part of inquiries, investigators from Central Metropolitan Region attended the Elizabeth Bay home unit and spoke with the man," a police statement said.

"Following further inquiries, the man was issued a $1000 PIN via email just before 9pm."

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian defied calls to sack the Coalition frontbencher but on Thursday told him to return to his Sydney apartment - acknowledging the "perception is horrible".

"It's not just about sticking to the rules, it's about making sure there's a perception that everybody is sticking to the rules including members of Parliament," the Premier told reporters.

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She said she became aware of his change of residence a few days ago, despite Mr Harwin travelling back to Sydney for a medical consultation and parliamentary sitting on March 24.

But Ms Berejiklian was adamant Mr Harwin didn't break the rules because he relocated on March 13 before state COVID-19 regulations came into effect on March 17.

Not wanting to "cause a distraction," Mr Harwin confirmed he'd arrived back in Sydney in a statement on Thursday.

He apologised to the Premier and the NSW community but insisted he had sought official advice to adhere to the public health order.

NSW Labor is calling on Mr Harwin to resign or, failing that, for the Premier to step in and relieve him of his ministerial duties.

"He's been selfish and he should be brought to account," shadow arts minister Walt Secord told reporters.

Mr Harwin was also recently seen clothes shopping during one of two trips to Sydney.

NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said people are "dying when appropriate measures have either not been established or are ignored".

"No one individual or corporation is above these laws - anyone suspected of breaching the orders will be investigated and if a breach is detected, they will be dealt with in accordance with the Act," he said in a police statement.

It comes as the state government continues to urge the public against all non- essential travel to regional NSW towns, especially over the Easter long weekend.

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Officials across the world have been caught flouting self-isolation rules and reprimanded including Scotland's chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood and New Zealand Health Minister David Clark.

- with AAP

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