The New South Wales government is downplaying a data breach after thousands of sensitive business addresses were inadvertently posted online, as thousands of nurses went on strike for better pay and of work.
The breach came to light as NSW recorded 8,201 new cases of COVID-19 and 16 more deaths and striking public hospital nurses marched on parliament.
There are 2,017 more cases of the virus than were reported on Monday.
Twelve men and four women have died from the virus, two more than the day before.
Three people were 70 years old, seven people were 80 years old and six people were 90 years old.
Five of those who died were unvaccinated.
As the latest wave continues to wreak havoc on the healthcare system, nurses from around 150 public hospitals have taken to the streets across the state, striking for the first time in nearly a decade.
Reduced staff remain in hospitals to ensure patient safety.
Thousands of nurses gathered outside the NSW Houses of Parliament to deliver their message to MPs as they returned to Macquarie Street for the first sitting day of the year.
The strike came in defiance of an eleventh-hour ruling by the state Industrial Relations Commission that on Monday ordered the union to refrain from industrial action.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns described the gathering of thousands as “not so much a strike as a call for help from frontline workers and nurses”.
Nurses want one nurse for every four patients on each shift and a pay rise above the government-mandated public sector offer of 2.5%.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard says he is disappointed with the strike process, saying the changes nurses want would cost the state about $1 billion to implement.
Mr Minns called on the government to sit down and negotiate in good faith with representatives of nurses.
“Two years ago, nurses would go to work even though we didn’t know the long-term effects of COVID-19…putting their own safety second and the public interest first,” Minns said.
The government is also facing a QR code breach where the data of some 500,000 physical addresses was leaked, including sensitive sites ranging from defense to domestic violence shelters and prisons.
Locations have been collected by NSW Customer Service through their QR code check-in system to comply with COVID check-in protocols.
The dataset was then inadvertently made public via a government website.
Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet said the information was “uploaded by mistake”.
The government claims to have shut down that specific dataset, but maintains that the incident is not a cybersecurity breach, nor does it involve the security or integrity of QR codes, after having it referred to the state privacy commissioner.
However, Mr Minns called the breach “completely unacceptable”.
“Leaks like this keep happening and yet we’re getting little to no response from the government on why it happened and what steps they are taking to ensure it doesn’t happen again. “.
“All of us, myself included, have provided enormous amounts of personal information to the NSW Government, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Minns said.
“We have every right and expect him to be safely held by our government.
Australian Associated Press