NSW Liberal MP Don Harwin was fined $1000 for breaching a COVID-19 restriction after he travelled back and forth between Sydney and his Central Coast holiday home, according to the state’s highest-ranking police officer.
Commissioner Mick Fuller says the issue is that the then-NSW arts minister “came and went a number of times”.
“I think the message is that if you’re lucky to have two residences, and one is in Sydney and one is more remote, then you do need to pick one,” Mr Fuller told reporters on Monday.
Mr Harwin last week resigned as a state government minister after it was revealed he had decamped from his primary residence in Elizabeth Bay to his Pearl Beach holiday home.
He was fined $1000 by NSW Police for acting “in contravention of a current ministerial direction under the Public Health Act”.
Mr Harwin argues he relocated in mid-March before the order was made.
Announcing his resignation on Friday, the MP said he’d sought at all times to act in accordance with public health orders and remained confident he had done so.
“I know, however, that perception is just as important during these times,” Mr Harwin said in a statement.
Mr Fuller on Monday said another man who was also staying at the Pearl Beach residence had a reasonable explanation for being there.
The man had returned from overseas prior to current restrictions and was self-isolating under previous orders.
“The information that was given that he couldn’t isolate at his normal place of residence due to the fear of someone else being ill in that house, which is reasonable,” Mr Fuller said.
But he said it was his understanding that Mr Harwin had made a number of trips back to Sydney while staying on the Central Coast.
“Coming back and forth to Sydney, particularly if you were living with someone who was self-isolated – in a sense, probably in a higher risk category – I think there’s a range of messages there that probably aren’t helpful,” Mr Fuller said.
He noted that anyone ticketed under COVID-19 still had a right to test these matters.
“There’s still a judicial process that’s open and operating, although in a limited capacity,” he said.
Originally published as NSW minister ‘came and went’ from home