PM weighs in on NSW outbreak
There is no need for alarm despite a COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales growing to five cases, Scott Morrison says.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has called on anyone with symptoms to undergo testing, after health authorities confirmed another three COVID-19 cases in Sydney's northern beaches.
The revelation followed three infections confirmed on Wednesday, including the state's first cases of community transmission in a fortnight.
But the Prime Minister said on Thursday there was no need for alarm, as the state government had conditioned NSW residents to respond "conscientiously" to outbreaks.
"New South Wales is the gold standard. I don't spend too much time worrying about New South Wales, because they've demonstrated why I don't have to," he said.
"New South Wales is very conscientious, the people of New South Wales are also very conscientious. They respond quickly and responsibly.
"By doing that, they not only keep the rest of New South Wales safe, but also the rest of the country."
Victorian health officials travelled to New South Wales in September to take pointers on the state's contact tracing system.
The Victorian outbreak put federal and state co-operation under the microscope, with competing claims over whether the federal government offered Victoria support from Australian Defence Force personnel.
But Mr Morrison insisted there was a "seamless partnership" between the NSW and federal governments, including discussions on potential ADF support.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivered the Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) update on Thursday, which showed better figures than feared at the height of the pandemic.
Mr Morrison said without New South Wales remaining open throughout the crisis, Australia would not have seen a surprise 3.3 per cent GDP rebound in the September quarter.
"New South Wales' ability to stand and remain open during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020 had an immeasurable benefit to the national economy. Where other states faulted, New South Wales stood very strong," he said.
"Had the New South Wales economy not remained open in 2020, we would not be seeing the strength of the recovery in the comeback we announced."
Mr Morrison made the comments while unveiling a completed upgrade to the Pacific Highway, where he was joined by Ms Berejiklian and Deputy Prime Michael McCormack.
He said the $15b project, which completed 657 kilometres of highway along the New South Wales North Coast, was the culmination of 30 years of hard work.
"The Pacific Highway has so many sad stories, tragic, terrible stories. Horrible bus crashes, terrible accidents. Families going away for Christmas holidays or Easter holidays and it ending in terrible tragedy," he said.
"I remember watching it on the news when I was younger and … saying, 'Somebody needs to do something about this, this has to be fixed'. Well, it's fixed."
Mr McCormack said it was a landmark day for communities along the NSW North Coast.
"The Pacific Highway is more than a road to them - it is part of their story, connecting them to the rest of Australia and each other," he said.
"More than 40,000 people, including many locals, have worked directly on this project over 24 years. They should be proud that they have helped deliver safer, faster and more reliable journeys to millions of motorists every year."
But Labor infrastructure spokeswoman Catherine King accused Mr Morrison of declaring "premature victory", saying Coffs Harbour was still waiting for a bypass along the route.
"The job isn't done until it's done. Rather than patting himself on the back, the PM needs to get back to work, build the Coffs Harbour Bypass and finish this essential project properly," she said.
Originally published as PM weighs in on NSW outbreak