Rosalie Woodruff MP | Greens Health spokesperson
The Prime Minister’s reset of close contacts, and anti-testing rhetoric is dangerous and will put lives at risk – but it was accepted without question by Tasmania’s Premier, Peter Gutwein.
While both Western Australian and South Australian Premiers had the spine to stand up to Morrison’s dangerous re-definition of ‘close contacts’, Peter Gutwein did not. The only reason for changing the exposure period for ‘close contact’ from 15 minutes to 4 hours is to reduce the soaring numbers of covid being reported.
Regrettably, it’s no surprise Scott Morrison is ignoring science, and putting politics above the public good. After his 22 months of listening to public health advice and consequently keeping Tasmanians safe, Peter Gutwein’s capitulation to the Prime Minister says everything we need to know about his changed priorities.
Yet another example of Premier Gutwein’s changed course is his decision to cancel the requirement for negative PCR tests for visitors to Tasmania. This will simply mean more mainland COVID-19 cases make it to our vulnerable island state.
Tasmania has a much more vulnerable population, and a health system that will not cope with the increased burden COVID will put on it. That was clear from the Kirby modelling the Government commissioned ahead of our borders opening, based on the Delta strain – it will only be worse with Omicron.
Peter Gutwein should be straight with Tasmanians about the impact his changes to testing requirements and Omicron’s obvious community transmission will have. He should release the up-to- date modelling on which he made his dangerous decision to not only open the borders, but back in the Prime Minister at National Cabinet yesterday.
Governments must not give up trying to control COVID-19. The Premier needs a strategy to maximise vaccines, ventilation, HEPA air cleaners, better masks (KF94, P2/FFP2, N95), rapid antigen test availability, increase contact tracing, continue quarantine, and financial support for struggling businesses and casual workers – and he should close the borders to high risk states.
It’s distressingly clear the Liberals’ focus is no longer to keep Tasmanians safe, it’s simply to do the bidding of the Federal Liberal Party, along with the THA and TICT.