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12 Months of Uncontrolled Covid, Time for a New Health Minister

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 15 December 2022

Tags: Health, COVID-19, Ministerial Accountability

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson

Today marks a year since Tasmania reopened its borders and Covid was invited in without proper protection and preparation. Since then, nearly 200 Tasmanian families have lost loved ones and almost 270,000 people have been infected – many with repeat infections. 

The borders opened to Omicron, even though the plan had been prepared for the less infectious Delta variant. Over the following months and Omicron waves, Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff removed essential pandemic protections. The same national health experts who prepared Tasmania’s border reopening plan expressed alarm at the lack of sufficient pandemic response, but were dismissed and belittled by Jeremy Rockliff. 

As Premier and Minister for Health, Jeremy Rockliff pushed for and dropped all protections against Covid transmission. He has allowed Covid to saturate our island community, without warning about debilitating long Covid and the increased risk of death.

It’s time Tasmania had a new Health Minister. One who will put the health of Tasmanians first.

Jeremy Rockliff has left people vulnerable to dying from Covid to battle on their own. So much for his government with heart. 

Tasmania is now in the midst of a fifth wave, with even fewer public health protections than before. Premier Rockliff has removed density limits, mask wearing indoors, and isolating when infectious – and now plans to cut the backbone of public testing clinics.  

We learnt through Right to Information that Premier Rockliff championed the removal of Covid isolation period at National Cabinet without public health advice. How can we trust him when he says he’s listening to health experts? 

Last week, the Director of Public Health clearly stated on statewide radio he would not recommend ending public PCR testing, but that’s what the Rockliff Liberals have committed to do. 

Jeremy Rockliff is making political decisions, not health decisions. Tasmanians need a Health Minister who listens to and prioritises public health and vulnerable people – instead of the demands of industry heavyweights.

While Jeremy Rockliff talks about “living with Covid”, cases are ballooning and hospitals beds filling up. Mass infection is also having a major impact on our fragile economy, with workers repeatedly getting sick.

Premier Rockliff is clearly more focused on looking after big business mates, instead of the community’s health. It’s time he handed the Health portfolio to someone who can make it their top priority.