Dr WOODRUFF question to PREMIER, Mr Gutwein
North-west doctors have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic. They have been risking their personal safety, working day after day, caring for sick patients. They understand what it takes to keep a person healthy and well, and they desperately care about how you step their community out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Twenty-three north west doctors have written to you, expressing their deep concern about their community's long-term health and your plan to commence logging of old growth and native forest in takayna/Takine.
Our recovery from COVID-19 should prioritise building a society that can flourish into the future, not accelerate us towards further upheaval. It must rebuild our state and that must mean tackling the climate emergency. As climate heating builds, lives are put at risk and significant physical and mental health problems are caused. The permanent loss of livelihood, in many regional communities, is on the line.
These north-west doctors have called on you to show political will and look to the future for the health of their community. Will you listen to these doctors and lead a recovery that puts climate mitigation and the health of communities first?
Madam Speaker, I thank the member for Franklin, Dr Woodruff, for that question. I was looking a bit bemused, because I have received and read the letter that came in.
What I want to put first, certainly from this side of the House, and I think also from the other side of the House, our first and foremost thought has to be how do we get those tens of thousands of Tasmanians who were engaged with the job market only a handful of weeks ago, back into some form of meaningful work at the earliest opportunity?
I thank those hardworking north-west doctors for the work they do. In fact, in terms of healthcare workers across the state, they should all be thanked for the work they have done. We will be forever in the debt for the efforts of those people in the health sector.
Now is not the time to be pushing an ideological barrow -
Ms O'Connor - Are you saying that to the doctors, or to us?
Madam SPEAKER - Order, please. Kindness, respect, discipline.
Mr GUTWEIN - And gratitude. Discipline was not in it. When I received the letter,
I took the view that I will accept it with good grace. I expect we will see more people bringing forward more ideas and solutions, as they see it, over time. Individuals and others, well-meaning from their point of view, will write to government with a range of suggestions. I am certain we will receive many suggestions about what Tasmania, the country and the world could do.
But let us not forget that we have a health crisis. We have tens of thousands of Tasmanians who have been dislocated from their work and that needs to be our focus right now. Right now, I am focused, as is this side of the House, on exactly what is in front of us. We have a health crisis we have to deal with and we also have an economic crisis. We have tens of thousands of Tasmanians out of work and that needs to be our focus.
We are going to work through the process of the Premier's Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council. We will take advice and will announce early initiatives at the end of June, hopefully, so that we can take some immediate steps, if need be, that may help to get some of those people back into work. I caution everyone in this House; whilst we need to have an eye to the horizon, the fight is right here, amongst us right now, and we need to deal with that first and foremost.