EXCLUSIVE: A group of NSW Police officers turned up at the Sydney home of a construction boss over the weekend following Facebook posts slamming NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for closing down construction sites until the end of July as part of the NSW Government’s expanding lockdown with the Delta strain of the Covid virus continuing to cause havoc across the city. Serkan Ozturk reports.
A Sydney construction boss received a visit from three NSW Police officers on the evening of Saturday, July 17 over social media posts he made earlier in the weekend slamming NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian for her moves to shut down construction sites as part of the lockdown of Sydney.
The initial move by the NSW Government to pause construction work came after Sydney has seen over 1,000 Covid infections in a month as the Delta strain grips a city, causing 85 hospitalisations and four deaths.
However, there is now talk the decision taken by the government over the weekend may already be reversed, with construction work once again to perhaps be allowed from as early as Wednesday of this week.
Critics of the move had said that with no JobKeeper in place and with only up to $600 a week on offer in disaster payments for affected workers, it would have placed many construction workers in a precarious position.
A few hours after the government’s initial announcement on Saturday morning, over 100 angry truck drivers held a protest convoy across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Anzac Bridge.
Construction boss, Peter Khayat, meanwhile was at his home with his family in Sydney’s south when NSW Police came knocking on Saturday night.
Following Premier Berejiklian’s announcement earlier in the day that all construction work in Sydney would be paused for a fortnight, Mr Khayat had written on Facebook that it was “time to rise people” and fight for their “basic human rights”.
“How the fuck are we not storming government buildings n just doing as they say?” Mr Khayat asked in one Facebook post.
Mr Khayat also suggested that forcing all construction work to shut down as part of the lockdown would ensure that “Bankstown [and] the Lebos are in full riot”.
Mr Khayat is the owner of construction firm KPR which has about 200 contractors on its books.
In a series of videos posted to Facebook and TikTok, Mr Khayat then captured the moment NSW Police turned up at his door to question him about his comments on social media earlier in the day.
Mr Khayat tells police he made the posts out of frustration and fear for his contractors and their families.
“We’ve all got families to feed. I’ve got a mortgage. I’ve got four kids,” Mr Khayat says in one of the videos.
“I’ve got 200 workers that I’ve got to sit there on Monday and tell them … and they’ve got families themselves. I’m a small fish in this industry. I know people who have two or three thousand workers who they have to do the same thing.”
WATCH THE MOMENT WHEN NSW COPS CONFRONT A SYDNEY CONSTRUCTION BOSS FOR CRITICISING NSW PREMIER GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN
Mr Khayat tells police in the video it’s his freedom of speech to let off steam about the government and its political decisions which are having a real-life impact on millions of people.
“Am I going to do something about it? Ab-so-fucking-lutely not,” Mr Khayat says.
“I’ve got way too much to lose, I’m not going to do anything about it.”
Mr Khayat also asks one of the police officers if he should remove any of his posts, telling them he doesn’t want to be responsible for riots against the NSW Government as many people in the construction industry will be angry.
“Even though it goes against basic human rights and freedom of speech, is there any post you would like for me to remove?” Mr Khayat says in the video.
“I’m actually surprised you’re here.”