The NSW deputy premier John Barilaro has been cleared by NSW police of undertaking travel in contravention of the state’s public health orders because he had travelled to his country property to visit his family and undertake various maintenance tasks.
“No breaches of the Public Health Act were detected by police in relation to the deputy premier’s recent travel and visit to his rural property in south-east NSW,” NSW police said in a statement this afternoon.
Deputy Commissioner Gary Warboys said he would look into the possible breach after he became aware of it this morning, when asked by journalists
As the Guardian reported this morning, the NSW deputy premier, John Barilaro, revealed in a press conference this week that he had travelled from his home in the suburbs of Queanbeyan/Canberra to his farm to contemplate his future before deciding not to run for the federal seat of Eden-Monaro.
“It was a decision I made on the weekend,” he told the media on Monday. “I had the opportunity at the weekend down on the farm to build a cubby house with my four-year-old. I had the opportunity to be fun and silly,” he said as he explained his decision.
The news that the deputy premier travelled to his property, Dungowan Estate, which is advertised on Stayz as a seven-bedroom luxury retreat available for rental, caused a furore, particularly as the deputy premier has led the call for people to avoid travelling to the regions.
He has told people to “stay home” and that people should not expect to see relatives in the regions until Christmas.
On 9 April when another Liberal minister, Don Harwin, was caught travelling between his Pearl Beach beachhouse and his city residence, Barilaro led the charge calling for his resignation.
He said he was “bloody angry” about Harwin’s conduct.
“Politicians aren’t exempt from this rule and what Don Harwin has done over the last couple of weeks is unacceptable. I’m absolutely upset about it,” Barilaro said.
“In the public eye, it looks like politicians believe they’re above the rules and above the law and we’re not.”
The police statement said inquiries by police from Southern Region revealed that he travelled to the property on Saturday (2 May 2020) and spent the weekend with his family.
“He also conducted various maintenance tasks at the property.
“Investigators deemed that neither the travel, nor the stay, breached the current Ministerial Directions, including guidelines that commenced last Friday (1 May 2020).
“As such, inquiries have now concluded,” he said.
Barilaro said he travelled to the property to tend to the chickens and to mow lawns.
Labor’s shadow treasury spokesman, Walt Secord, raised the deputy premier’s conduct during estimates this morning, and asked the health minister, Brad Hazzard, whether Barilaro was being “hypocritical”.
“He [Barilaro] said he drove 125km to build a cubby house,” Secord told the inquiry. “That was his reason. I don’t see how a cubby house is essential work … don’t you think he should be brought to account?”
Hazzard said he was not going to respond.