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Ambulance Tasmania State Operations Centre COVID 19 Payment

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 1 June 2023

Tags: Ambulances, COVID-19, Public Service


Last night all staff working at Ambulance Tasmania State Operations Centre got a letter at 7 p.m. telling them to pay back a $1000 COVID-19 appreciation payment within two weeks. They are devastated. This is a body blow for people who turned up day and night during the COVID-19 peak, battling a broken health system to try to get Tasmanians an ambulance in time to save their life.

Some poor bureaucrat in Health was directed to make cuts and decided Ambulance Tasmania staff do not meet the frontline worker definition. Is this how you are planning to scrape out $300 million in essential sector cuts to build a stadium? Times could not be tougher and you have ripped a pathetic $1000 from essential workers. What a stark contrast to their Victorian colleagues who got a $3000 bonus for the same work.

Staff are protesting outside Hobart ambulance station this morning. Will you reverse this direction and apologise to those essential hardworking staff yourself?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin for her question. Our Government has recognised the important and ongoing role that our health workers and health professionals have played right throughout the pandemic and the state's COVID-19 response.

Last year, we invested approximately $22.43 million in recognising over 10 000 health workers with the frontline health COVID-19 allowance, a $2000 allowance paid in instalments of $1000. These were our workers at the frontline with the highest risk of exposure to COVID 19 who enjoyed months of wearing high levels of PPE as their main protection. They included public sector nurses, midwives, doctors, allied health professionals, orderlies, ward clerks, food services, cleaners and paramedics working in hospitals, inpatient and health care clinics and other settings like vaccination, testing clinics and other settings during the pandemic.

I sincerely thank all our frontline health workers who continue to care -

Ms O'Connor - Well do not take $1000 back.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - for members of our community impacted by the pandemic. To be eligible for the payment an employee must have been working in a clinical setting between 15 December 2021 and 31 July 2022, providing direct or indirect patient care. Their eligibility, I understand, was discussed at length with representative unions prior to payment and the agreement reached.

Last year, the secretary outlined that there had been system errors identified in payment of the allowance. I was advised that some staff who are eligible for the payment did not receive it, while some who were ineligible did. Steps were taken at that time to immediately put a hold on any further payments. The Department of Health has now completed a comprehensive review of the allowance.

Dr Woodruff - How come everyone at the State Operations Centre got this letter?

Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, order.

Dr Woodruff - It was not just one person.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I am advised that those who received the allowance incorrectly involved 554 employees at a cost of $419 272. Under the provision of Treasurer's Instruction FC-14, the Department of Health had a responsibility to recover any overpayments made. That process has now commenced. As is the case with any overpayment, all employees affected have a right to determine whether they pay the overpayment in instalment or in a lump sum -

Dr WOODRUFF - Mr Speaker, point of order, Standing Order 45. Will the Premier just confirm he will not reverse the cuts? Is that what you are saying?

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Standing Order 45 is relevance. I can only concede that I thought the Premier was relevant and to the question. Standing Order 45 does not give a member an opportunity to stand up and ask further questions.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The department will work with individual employees to minimise the financial impact by proposing a repayment option over 12 months or longer, if required. We will work individually with each employee affected. I am sorry that this has happened. I understand how frustrated, and to a certain extent angry, people must feel about a system error. I take full responsibility as Premier and Minister for Health. I look forward to working with employees on the options in the future.