You are here

COVID-19 - Effect on Vulnerable People of End of Mandatory Isolation Period

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 18 October 2022

Tags: COVID-19, Disability


The peak body for people with disability, Disability Voices Tasmania (DVT), is clear your crusade to end mandatory isolation for COVID-19 has placed the Tasmanian disability community and people who are immune-compromised at severe and unacceptable risk. DVT describes the move as premature and dangerous and states it has led to feelings of exclusion and isolation among disabled Tasmanians.

Premier, this is on you. You led the charge with the New South Wales Premier, Dominic Perrottet. In response to these grave concerns you suggested people with disability be mindful of COVID-19-safe behaviours.

How does a carer dependent person with a physical disability do that when their carers are now able to come to work infectious? How does a person with a cognitive impairment who needs support with decision making take personal responsibility? How could you so gravely betray Tasmanians with a disability who are now more vulnerable to infection long-term health consequences and death from COVID-19?



Mr Speaker, I thank the member for Clark for her very important question. I will restate again that the health and safety and wellbeing of all Tasmanians has been -

Ms O'Connor - Bullshit, that is bullshit.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Our number one priority.

Mr Ferguson - Mr Speaker, that is unparliamentary. I seek that it be withdrawn.

Mr SPEAKER - Yes. I cannot tell who said what but whoever said it could you please withdraw it?

Ms O'Connor - I described the Premier's statement that the health and wellbeing of Tasmanians is his priority is bullshit.

Mr SPEAKER - Without qualification, could you please withdraw, thank you.

Ms O'Connor - I withdraw the word.

Ms Archer - It is unparliamentary.

Ms O'Connor - Do not care.

Mr SPEAKER - Order, any more comment and people will leave the Chamber. You have asked the question, and the Premier should be allowed to answer it.

Mr ROCKLIFF - The health, safety and wellbeing of Tasmanians has been our number one priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing. The response by governments demands national collaboration on health, social and economic fronts as we anticipate future waves of the virus. On 30 September this year, first ministers agreed to continue a nationally consistent approach to Australia's COVID-19 response and principles to guide this approach. At that time National Cabinet agreed to remove mandatory isolation requirements for people who test positive for COVID-19 -

Dr Woodruff - The AMA called it scientifically illiterate.

Mr SPEAKER - Member for Franklin, order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - from 14 October 2022. Management of COVID-19 is now increasingly targeted towards protecting those who are most at risk of severe disease. Changes to isolation reflect current lower rates of COVID-19 in the community. Our very high vaccination rates, of which Tasmania was a consistent leader, was always key and number one action of this Government and access to treatments that help protect those at risk of severe disease. The COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge nationally and internationally but our extensive planning, also our considerable investment in hospital -

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, standing order 45, relevance. I have asked the Premier to address the question of how a person with a physical disability or a cognitive impairment takes personal responsibility.

Mr SPEAKER - I take the point of order. It is not an opportunity to restate the question. I remind the Premier of relevance and the question.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Our health system is well prepared for COVID-19 both now and into the future. I understand the pandemic has caused, and continues to cause, much anxiety for people within the community for people with a disability and the sector more broadly. I have always been very mindful of that.

Ms O'Connor - Rubbish, you do not care.

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I was minister for Disability at the commencement of the pandemic and had strong engagement nationally with other state ministers and the national federal minister at the time.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Mr Speaker, relevance. People with disability are genuinely concerned and want an answer to this question. He is not answering the question.

Mr SPEAKER - As I stated earlier this question time, I do not know how the Premier is going to answer your question. I cannot tell him how to answer the question. We need to sit in silence and listen to the answer. If you are not happy with that answer, then you have an opportunity for another question later on at question time. Please, silence in the Chamber while the Premier is answering the question.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We are continuing to work with the Australian Government, the National Disability Insurance Agency, the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission, the disability sector and advocates to ensure people with disability and their families continue to receive the information and support they need.

Ms O'Connor - But no protection.

Mr SPEAKER - Order. Another interjection like that, Ms O'Connor, and I will ask you to leave.

Mr ROCKLIFF - People with disability may take extra precautions to protect their health, of course, like wearing a mask. It is important that anyone's choice to wear a mask is respected. There are a range of supports and information available to people with disability. NDIS participants can claim for rapid antigen tests through NDIS plans using core funding -

Ms O'Connor interjecting.

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, if you are not prepared to listen to the answer, I will ask you to leave.

Ms O'Connor - Are you asking me to leave?

Mr SPEAKER - I am not at this point but if you say any more, you will be.

Ms O'Connor - I am listening carefully.


Member Suspended

Member for Clark - Ms O'Connor

Mr SPEAKER - Ms O'Connor, in that case, you can leave.

Ms O'Connor - How long?

Mr SPEAKER - Until after question time.

Ms O'Connor - Good. Thank you, Mr Speaker

Ms O'Connor withdrew.


Mr ROCKLIFF - If a person with disability requires PPE, for example, N95 masks, they can access supplies through pharmacies or use other supports available such as NDIS funding or access through support providers. I reiterate that for NDIS participants, the National Disability Insurance Agency has put in place a range of measures to help participants who have been impacted by COVID-19 to ensure they continue to receive the essential disability supports they need.