Barilaro forced to apologise
Deputy Premier John Barilaro was forced to apologise for “highly offensive” comments he made comparing a funeral in the western NSW town of Wilcannia – attended by about 300 people in compliance with the health orders at the time – to “the 16 dickheads in Maroubra” who spread COVID-19 after having a party in breach of lockdown rules.
Barilaro’s comments were made just days after the NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard expressed regret for comparing the two gatherings.
The Wilcannia funeral took place on 13 August. At that time the shire was not in lockdown, funerals were permitted, and police had confirmed the event was COVID-19-safe.
The far-western Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MP Roy Butler said Barilaro’s statements were “devoid of fact, highly offensive and must be retracted immediately”.
“There was not a single offence by Wilcannia residents detected by NSW police before, during or after the funeral. There were no breaches of the health orders by anyone living in Wilcannia,” Butler said.
“The Wilcannia community have done everything in their power to protect themselves from COVID-19. They have made sacrifices in the past 18 months beyond anyone’s comprehension.”