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The Project host Waleed Aly said New South Wales is in a ‘shadow lockdown‘ due to confused government policies, with many residents scared to go to shops, cafes and gyms because they might catch Covid.

Speaking to treasurer Matt Kean after he announced his $1billion support package, Aly said people had imposed their own lite-lockdowns because the government was failing to properly manage the spread of the Omicron variant. 

Restrictions lifting combined with shortages of rapid antigen tests and continued isolation requirements have disrupted business and caused supply-chain issues.

Data from the Australian Retailers Association showed up to 76 per cent of shops had staff in isolation in mid-January requiring cuts to trading hours or closing stores entirely.

‘For small businesses, a couple of cases can wipe out their entire workforce,’ chief executive Paul Zahra said.

The Project hosts Waleed Aly (pictured) claimed NSW was in a 'shadow lockdown' with households staying in so as not to catch Omicron and be plunged into isolation

The Project hosts Waleed Aly (pictured) claimed NSW was in a 'shadow lockdown' with households staying in so as not to catch Omicron and be plunged into isolation

The Project hosts Waleed Aly (pictured) claimed NSW was in a ‘shadow lockdown’ with households staying in so as not to catch Omicron and be plunged into isolation 

Co-host Steve Price jumped in to say he interviewed Nationals MP Pat Conaghan on his radio show earlier in the day and played a clip of his ‘blunt’ assessment of Mr Kean’s call for federal money to help NSW businesses.

‘For Kean to say that the federal government is nowhere to be seen, in my view, is simply a reflection of his own ego,’ Mr Conaghan said.

‘It made me so angry. This guy has got his head so far up you-know-where he could he could give himself his own prostate inspection,’ he said.

Price then made the awkward moment even more bizarre as he followed up with his own question asking Mr Kean: ‘So how is your prostate?’

‘Look, I’m not doctor,’ Mr Kean joked.

‘I’m not interested in the personality politics – I am interested in standing up for NSW small businesses:  our cafes, hotels, beauty industry and tourism operators have been smashed through no fault of their own.’ 

The interview then wrapped up with Aly chiming back in with: ‘Matt Kean thanks very much and all the best with your prostate’.

‘That’s got to be one of the most bizarre interview endings I’ve ever heard,’ co-host Peter Hellier added. 

While NSW remains open, retail trading is significantly down since the Omicron wave (pictured: Chinatown in Sydney on January 29)

While NSW remains open, retail trading is significantly down since the Omicron wave (pictured: Chinatown in Sydney on January 29)

While NSW remains open, retail trading is significantly down since the Omicron wave (pictured: Chinatown in Sydney on January 29)

In January, consumer spending – which reached a record $33billion in Australia in November ahead of the holiday season – has plunged again to the lowest level since Delta lockdowns. 

Economist at global jobsite Indeed, Callum Pickering, said in mid-January that: ‘Cautious households and supply shortages may weigh heavily on the retail sector through early 2022’. 

Mr Kean has been vocal in hitting out at the federal government after he was snubbed on his $1billion business stimulus for the state.

He wants the Commonwealth to put additional money into the scheme to support businesses that have suffered a 40 per cent downturn during the summer.

But the call has been swiftly knocked back.

‘Ash Barty didn’t win the Australia open saying I don’t need to try in the final because I had a good semi. You have to address each of the challenges that come along,’ Mr Kean said.

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean (pictured) said the government were 'nowhere to be found' because they refused to chip in on his $1billion support package for businesses

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean (pictured) said the government were 'nowhere to be found' because they refused to chip in on his $1billion support package for businesses

NSW Treasurer Matt Kean (pictured) said the government were ‘nowhere to be found’ because they refused to chip in on his $1billion support package for businesses

The premier said the Small Business Support Package had been designed to provide a lifeline to businesses hard-hit by the Omicron wave over summer (pictured, a Sydney)

The premier said the Small Business Support Package had been designed to provide a lifeline to businesses hard-hit by the Omicron wave over summer (pictured, a Sydney)

The premier said the Small Business Support Package had been designed to provide a lifeline to businesses hard-hit by the Omicron wave over summer (pictured, a Sydney)

‘A lot of small businesses across the country would say they’re doing it tough. I don’t think now is the right moment for austerity, now is the right time to make sure we protect the fabric of the economy.’

‘What we’re trying to do now is mitigate the impact that’s having not only on health but also on the economy… and it’s why we are calling on the federal government to stand with us and support our small business sector, because they need help.’

He had earlier claimed the federal government was ‘nowhere to be found’ when he announced the $1billion package. 

”I’m very disappointed, I was hoping to make this announcement today standing beside the prime minister and Treasurer [Josh] Frydenberg but they’re not to be found,’ he said.

Nationals MP Pat Conaghan (pictured left with Scott Morrison) said he was 'furious' that Mr Kean said the federal government wasn't doing their bit

Nationals MP Pat Conaghan (pictured left with Scott Morrison) said he was 'furious' that Mr Kean said the federal government wasn't doing their bit

Nationals MP Pat Conaghan (pictured left with Scott Morrison) said he was ‘furious’ that Mr Kean said the federal government wasn’t doing their bit 

Source: Daily Mail

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