The NSW government's "default position" is to not lock down in the face of COVID-19, Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson told a business lunch on Friday.
Speaking at the Tamworth Business Chamber's State of the State luncheon, Mr Anderson told an audience of small business owners that the government had held off ordering coronavirus restrictions to help business in June.
"On June 22, 23, 24, 25 we were looking at 15, 20 [COVID-19 cases]. And the questions then were, should we lock the state down?
"This government has a default position of no.
"It is a government of small business, it is a government of business, and driving the economy and believes in business so it was holding off - just like we did in 2020 - hold off as long as possible to allow business to continue before locking down.
"And there's been much discussion in relation to was it too late? Is it too early?"
The government has been caught in a "catch-22", he said - stuck between anti-lockdown protestors on one flank and criticism it hadn't locked down quickly enough, he said.
"It's a real catch-22 on how do you manage something that you can't see and you don't know," he said.
Asked about the personal cost of being part of a cabinet that orders a lockdown, Mr Anderson said "it's difficult".
"It's difficult when you're making decisions or part of the decision-making process that is going to shut down someone's livelihood," he said.
"It's difficult. But you've got to keep your eye on the endgame.
"You've got to be able to say where do we want to get to, stay focused on the vision, and how do you try to support those who you know you're going to impact in an adverse way, the right way."
The Tamworth MP told the lunch he had "escaped" COVID-19 lockdown in Sydney, by asking the party whip for a pair to leave the nation's capital.
"Sydney was going into lockdown, we got word it was not going to be pretty, so I escaped," he said.
"I can tell you I went straight to the government whip, I said, I need a pair, I'm outta here, I'm going home.
"It was going south fast."
Mr Anderson turned up to a housing strategy meeting the next morning, before leaving after getting a text.
He spent a fortnight in quarantine at his house rather than a Sydney hotel.
Speaking about the NSW state budget, handed down in June, the Tamworth MP said he had brought forward a range of projects that had been slated for 2022 or 2023, to keep the economy on an even keel.
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