What we learnt from the Premier’s first media conference

Speaking at Tuesday’s media conference, Mr Perrottet said he would stick to the national road map out of the pandemic, which allows for targeted restrictions during COVID outbreaks.

But he said NSW ultimately had to live with the virus and should not go backwards.

“This virus is not going away. It will be with us. It’s part of life,” he said.

Will there be a cabinet reshuffle?

As it stands, there are just two women in NSW’s cabinet.

Mr Perrottet conceded there needed to be more women in cabinet, but said now was not the right time to make changes.

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“I want a diverse cabinet. And I’ll make those changes at the appropriate time,” he said.

“More diversity leads to better government. And that’s something I’ll focus on. I’m just not focusing on it now.”

Mr Perrottet said he would not conduct a cabinet reshuffle until later in the year after the state has emerged from lockdown.

“ This is an important time. This is not a time for people to be focusing on themselves. The people of NSW need us to be focused on them and that is what we will do,” he said.

What role will his faith play?

Mr Perrottet said he was “very proud” of his Christian faith and criticism of it had been unfounded.

“We live in a very diverse society … diversity should be celebrated, it should not be criticised,” he said.

“People should judge people on who they are and what they say, not based on some, not based on some religious element, and I am very proud of the fact that I have a strong Christian faith.”

The Premier voted against the decriminalisation of abortion in 2019 but says he supports conscience votes on “issues of that nature”.

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Independent MP Alex Greenwich plans to introduce a bill to legalise voluntary assisted dying to Parliament this month, with Mr Perrottet indicating he supported the idea of a conscience vote and would approach the issue “delicately”.

Climate change and conservatism

In a 2016 Facebook post following the election of Donald Trump, Mr Perrottet called for a “conservative spring”.

“If you question man-made climate change, you are not a sceptic,” he said. “If you support stronger borders, you are not a racist. If you want a plebiscite on same-sex marriage, you are not a homophobe.”

Questioned by reporters about his current views, Mr Perrottet maintained he was committed to the government’s net zero carbon emissions target.

“When it comes to climate change and the environment, I believe our government is not just nation-leading but world-leading in that space and I am very proud to be a part of the government,” he said.

“We have got, I think, the most active and passionate Environment Minister in the country, if not the world.”

Mr Perrottet, who has been described as the most conservative Premier since World War II, was asked by reporters if he would live up to that title.

He said “that was for other people’s judgments”, saying he would serve for everyone.

“I have served diligently in my roles as finance minister and treasurer of the state,” he said. “I am incredibly passionate, hard-working, and I, as Premier, will serve every single person across the state, regardless what your beliefs are and what your religion is.”

Tax reform

Mr Perrottet says he remains committed to stamp duty and GST reform, saying the government would place a “real focus” on housing affordability.

“We are facing a challenge when it comes to generational equity where many young people today cannot get the keys to their very first home, and we have a duty to ensure that generations that come after us have greater opportunity and prosperity than we have, and in order to do that, reform is key,” he said.

The Premier says he will be able to work well with other state Premiers and the Prime Minister, despite last month calling the WA leader “Gollum”.

“Well, this is not a Kumbaya session – this is about fighting for our state,” Mr Perrottet said.

“[Mark McGowan] fights for his state, but my job is to represent the people of NSW. And when it comes to GST and some of those issues which are coming to a head, I’m not going to stand by and have NSW worse off because, whilst there might not be that much public interest in GST reform, it’s GST that pays for our schools and our hospitals and our nurses and our teachers and our police officers.”

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