Chief medical officer to front COVID probe

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Brad Hazzard has been accused of receiving preferential treatment after being spared mandatory isolation, despite direct contact with a COVID-positive colleague.

A parliamentary inquiry will now determine whether the allegations made against NSW’s outgoing health minister are true.

The three-hour hearing will examine why Mr Hazzard was considered a ‘casual contact’ and ‘what information was sought, including CCTV information from parliament’.

One Nation MP Mark Latham asked NSW Health staff a series of procedural questions about the decision, made 17 months ago, earlier this year.

The exchanges led Mr Hazzard to accuse Mr Latham of being ‘obsessed’ and bullying workers.

The incident dates back to June 24 last year, when Mr Hazzard told the media he self-isolated after receiving a text from NSW Health telling him he had been in close contact with a probable case of COVID-19.

He said the following day that he had no symptoms and had tested negative.

“We (in Sydney) obviously have a clear danger…and now I’m the recipient,” Mr Hazzard told the ABC at the time.

Former Agriculture Minister and Nationals MP Adam Marshall later tested positive for the virus, saying he was exposed while dining at a restaurant in Paddington, Sydney’s east.

The couple had both spent Tuesday evening at a National Party dinner in parliament, where witnesses will tell the inquest the pair spent a fleeting time together.

The couple were both asked to self-isolate by NSW Health the following day.

Other witnesses to the inquest include director of health Kerry Chant, former NSW health worker Jenny Musto and two members of the Pharmacists Guild who attended the National Party dinner.

Chairman of the NSW branch of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, David Heffernan, said in an inquest submission that he recalled having a brief conversation with Mr Marshall, before speaking for a few moments separately with Mr. Hazard.

“I would estimate that conversation lasted about a minute,” Mr. Heffernan said.

“I had no further interaction with Minister Hazzard, and my recollection is that he left office shortly after completing his speech.”

He said he never saw Mr. Marshall or Mr. Hazzard talking to each other at the reception.

Richard Walsh, NSW branch committee member at the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, had a similar recollection, saying he had not seen the two politicians talking to each other.

AAP has contacted Mr. Hazzard for comment.

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