Government Leadership During a Pandemic

Scott Farlow MLC

“I think that fundamentally, it taught me that clarity is much more important than certainty.”

Hon. Scott Farlow MLC


Leaders focus on clarity over certainty, leaders make the tough decisions and leaders seek a variety of educated opinions – especially when it comes to government leadership during a pandemic.

The Honourable Scott Farlow MLC was elected to the New South Wales Legislative Council in 2015 where he currently serves as Government Whip. From July 2020 to December 2021 Scott served as the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury for COVID recovery, a role which encompasses varied and detailed projects including supporting the New South Wales Federal Financial Relations review, engaging with industry and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting the delivery and implementation of COVID-19 related programs and stimulus. 

Since entering Parliament, Scott has served as leader of the House in the Legislative Council and Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier, served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Social Issues, Law and Justice Regulation and the select committee on Legislative Council Committee System, just to name a few. 

Prior to entering parliament, Scott served as both mayor and as a counsellor on Strathfield Council and has previously worked as an analyst and strategic advisor for large firms, state and federal parliamentarians.


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Fundamentally Scott’s role during the COVID response in NSW was not sitting around the decision-making table saying this is what is going to happen but dealing with what happened from the decision-making table. He is a public servant. That is his job. He is elected to do this.

There are no airs or graces that come with that and, throughout this whole period, he has been very aware that he was in a pretty privileged position in knowing that he had a job when many others around him didn’t. “Seeing friends and family who were losing significant amounts of pay, high levels of job security, is all pretty humbling,” he says.

The pandemic has shown us that people are yearning for safety and the government reacted with a variation of responses to protect the public in each state and geographical region. What we have seen is that in times of uncertainty the Australian public does not care which government, they just care that the government will actually do what needs to be done with no buck-passing. “It’s amazing some of the decisions that were made at the time, some right, some wrong, some that worked, some that didn’t, but there’s no playbook to this stuff,” Scott says.


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During today’s The Culture of Things (TCoT) Podcast, Scott talks to Brendan about the conversations he was having with shopkeepers during the very early days and how he still reflects on how naive he was as to what the impact would be. Scott highlights the role he played on the Treasury side with the stimulus programs such as the business support programs, the COVID cleaning package and homelessness support services as well as the impacts on the construction industry, school closures, mental health and relationships.  

In the past, the focus of the Treasury has not been on getting money out the door, however, the position has now changed. It now involves following up departments and asking if they have spent their money. We need this response; business needs this response and the community needs this response.

The discussion also touches on the bold and strong decisions that the federal government made in terms of the border closures, as well as localised approaches to restrictions when the NSW Government did and didn’t, hold their nerve. One example Scott expanded on was the response to the Northern Beaches outbreak during the Christmas and New Year period.


The complete interview can be listened to here, on audio platforms, or watched here, on The Culture of Things (TCoT) YouTube channel.


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