Timing of Chief Minister’s early holiday leave questioned

by | Dec 18, 2020 | News | 4 comments

Deputy Chief Minister Nicole Manison said Chief Minister Michael Gunner did not leave for Christmas holidays four days early because he wanted to avoid questions about the Dan Murphy’s approval.

But it remains unclear exactly why Mr Gunner left for holidays on Thursday – four days before he was scheduled to leave and amid an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Sydney Northern Beaches area that has been declared a coronavirus hotspot by NT health authorities.

Mr Gunner made the hotspot announcement Thursday night via social media. Ms Manison, who is now acting Chief Minister, said he was travelling interstate at that time.

She said he left early so there would be “a clear line of reporting” involving the active hotspot case.

“We’re just making sure that operationally we can make the decisions we need to make,” she said.

But she earlier said Mr Gunner would be consulted continuously by herself and chief health officer Hugh Heggie throughout the evolving situation.

“This is a very dynamic situation,” Ms Manison said. “The Chief Minister has started his leave but I just want to assure you that he is in contact with us quite frequently, so I don’t think it’s going to be much leave to be frank.”

Mr Gunner had faced criticism for taking leave to visit with his wife Kristy O’Brien’s family in rural Queensland for the Christmas holidays after previously telling Territorians to be prepared to quarantine on their return to Darwin if they travel interstate over the holidays.

Ms Manison said she had “no doubt” Mr Gunner would go into the Howard Springs facility for two weeks if the area he is in is declared a coronavirus hotspot.

Ms Manison also deflected questions from reporters about why the government appeared to have announced the approval of the Dan Murphy’s store in the NT News before Dan Murphy’s was informed of the decision.

She said she it was “absolutely not” a “drop” to the newspaper and said she was not aware the store had been approved by the director of liquor licensing until it was officially announced on Friday morning.

“What I have been advised though is that there may have been some discussion from … with licensing through to the proponents, the applicants,” Ms Manison said.

But the applicant Dan Murphy’s was not aware of the approval yesterday when it was reported.

 

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