‘Dudded’: Ben Fordham blows up at Paul Toole after backflipping on regional travel date

Erin LyonsNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Radio host Ben Fordham has blown up at the Deputy Premier for backflipping on a plan to allow Sydneysiders to travel the regions once the 80 per cent vaccine milestone was met.

The state government’s crisis cabinet met on Thursday and pushed the travel date back to allow regions with lagging vaccination uptake to catch up.

Paul Toole confirmed on Friday that the date had been moved to November 1.

The decision sparked fury with families and friends desperate to be reunited with their loved ones.

“I know it’s frustrating and I know it’s not an easy decision being made, but we have a responsibility to keep our regional communities safe,” Mr Toole said.

Fordham argued that “people have had all the time in the world to get vaccinated”.

Manny Rosenthal
Camera IconBen Fordham has blown up at Paul Toole. Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

“Why does it matter when we’ve hit 80 per cent?” he asked.

“It’s the quicker the better. I don’t know how many broken promises there are on regional travel. I can’t keep up.”

Allowing city dwellers to visit the regions was originally promised when the state achieved the 70 per cent milestone, but it was then pushed back to 80 per cent.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet on Thursday argued that the state achieved the 80 per cent target far earlier than anticipated, which had sparked concerns among regional leaders.

Mr Toole echoed those comments on Friday.

“We achieved that target of 80 per cent vaccination quicker than we thought. We thought it would still be a couple of weeks away,” Mr Toole said, before later arguing that the road map had been a clear path.

Camera IconThe government has backflipped on its promise to allow Sydney residents to visit the regions. NCA NewsWire / Adam Yip Credit: News Corp Australia

Fordham responded: “How can you say the road map has been a clear path? You said it (regional travel) would open up at 70 per cent, then 80 per cent, then October 25 and now you’re saying it’s next month. Come on.

“This is a body blow to regional tourism operators.”

Fordham argued that the people of NSW felt “dudded” by the decision and pushed Mr Toole to confess to breaking a promise.

“Do you agree that it’s a broken promise?” he asked.

Mr Toole tried to argue that there had been changes to the road map, but Fordham pushed him again.

“Do you agree that it’s a broken promise? Yes or no?

Camera IconSydneysiders can’t travel to the regions until November 1. NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard Credit: News Corp Australia

“I actually think the road map we’ve put forward has had plenty of changes all the way through,” Mr Toole said.

NSW is on the edge of achieving the magic 80 per cent double-dose target that would mean more freedoms kick in for fully vaccinated residents from Monday.

While travelling to the regions is off the cards, restrictions will be eased in other settings, including gatherings and weddings.

More details of the road map, where some changes are expected, will be revealed before Monday.

Originally published as ‘Dudded’: Ben Fordham blows up at Paul Toole after backflipping on regional travel date

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