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Disgraced MP reinstated to cabinet after COVID-19 fine dismissed

Legislator Don Harwin will be reinstated into the NSW cabinet after the Director of Public Prosecutions dropped his fine for breaching a public health order.

The former Arts Minister and Special Minister of State was slapped with a $1000 fine after being caught red-handed staying at his holiday home on the Central Coast in April, ignoring COVID-19 restrictions preventing long-distance travel.

Following outrage from the community, Mr Harwin resigned from his positions in the Berejiklian government.

Nine News court reporter Kelly Fedor told Ray Hadley the DPP gave no explanation for why the fine was being withdrawn.

“It was all over in 30 seconds.”

Ray anticipated more anger from the public following the decision, and said the minister should’ve accepted his fate when he had the chance.

“I don’t think it’ll sit well with all those other people – hundreds and hundreds of them – who faced fines and paid the fines.

“People will be writing to me and complaining there’s one rule for politicians and another rule for punters … even though it may not be true.”

The withdrawal of the fine opened up the opportunity for Mr Harwin to be reinstated into his previous positions, and the Premier has confirmed he will do so.

“Mr Harwin has always assured me that he did not break the rules,” Ms Berejiklian said (full statement below).

However, NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller has stood by the fine.

“I reviewed the circumstances of the incident at the time, and I stand by my decision to proceed with a Penalty Infringement Notice,” he said in a statement.

“The discontinuation of the case by the ODPP is a matter for them.”

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Full statement from Premier Gladys Berejiklian:

Following today’s court decision clearing Don Harwin of breaching COVID-19 restrictions in April, he will be reinstated to his former positions in the NSW cabinet.

Mr Harwin’s decision to resign from cabinet was appropriate when he received an infringement notice in April, but now that he has been cleared, it is appropriate that he return to cabinet.

Mr Harwin has always assured me that he did not break the rules.

Minister for Finance and Small Business Damien Tudehope will be appointed Leader of the House in the Legislative Council and will continue to manage Government business.

Following media reports about Mr Harwin’s property disclosures, the Department of Premier and Cabinet has confirmed that Mr Harwin made the relevant disclosures appropriately.