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COVID-19 Research

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Thursday, 5 May 2022

Tags: COVID-19

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Speaker, it is good to hear Labor make some comment on rising COVID-19 infections in the state. We have now had three sitting weeks so far this year and not one question from the Labor Opposition on this Government's mismanagement of a potentially fatal debilitating virus. Shame on you. You come in here in question time and sling mud around all politics all the time, while there are people getting sick and dying in our community.

We have entered the age of COVID-19 denialism. If you want any evidence of that, just have a look around, have a look around this building. People are coming in here unmasked. Stakeholders, bureaucrats coming into this building, into our workplace, unmasked. I went to an event a couple of weeks ago at Henry Jones with about 70 people in the room. I was the only one there, apart from the wait staff, who was wearing a mask. Regrettably, three people who were supposed to attend that event, two speakers and one camera operator, could not be there because they contracted COVID-19.

We have entered a period where governments are doing precisely nothing to prevent infection. Every day in Tasmania there are more than 1000 reported COVID-19 cases. As we know from Dr Veitch himself, that is a massive undercount. People are testing positive on Rapid Antigen Tests and, because the Government has dropped the ball on messaging, many are not reporting the infection.

Right around the country, governments are just letting it rip, taking no preventative measures to stave off mass COVID-19 infection in our community. Australia now sits at the top of the world in terms of per capita COVID-19 infection and this for a virus we barely understand. Fifty-six Tasmanians died preventable deaths as the result of this infection; 43 since the border restrictions were lifted on 15 December. There were 56 reported deaths in Australia yesterday. On average, 50 Australians a day are dying from COVID-19. Nearly one in four Tasmanians have been infected. Every one of us know someone who has contracted COVID-19. Two of my four children, despite their best efforts, and their mother's neurosis have contracted COVID-19.

It is very distressing to see how little care governments apparently have for people who contract COVID-19, people who die, and people who suffer long COVID-19. Even people who are triple vaccinated are becoming extremely sick as the result of COVID-19 infection. They are reporting to me, weeks and months after they recover the acute phase they do not feel good. They do not feel right. They have a brain fog. They cannot get rid of a persistent cough, they still suffer aches, pains and insomnia.

There is silence from the Government on how to prevent infection. This means that vulnerable people are living in fear and to the best extent they can they are staying at home. The message being sent to people living with a disability, for example, is that they are not to get in the way of society, the economy and of living with COVID-19. All this talk as a community over the last couple decades about how important it is to have an inclusive community, recognise the abilities of people with disability, make sure we harness those abilities and enable people with disability to fully participate in our society - no more.

When people with disability see so many Tasmanians wandering around without a mask, it is deeply distressing to them. The message here is 'we do not care enough about you to wear a mask, prevent ourselves from getting infected, or infecting you'. The message is: 'we do not care enough about the risk of long COVID-19' - long COVID-19, which governments barely acknowledge, but which we know is a mass disabling event. When Mr Ellis has a crack at me for using the term 'eugenics', he is ignoring the fact this a term being used by disability stakeholders and advocacy organisations. The effect of 'let it rip' is eugenicist. It targets the most vulnerable, the immunocompromised and the elderly.

We are getting no messaging out of Tasmania Public Health about how to prevent infection. Even the Victorian Government issues daily alerts across all its social media platforms on how to prevent infection. Even the Victorian Health Department encourages the wearing of masks. It is difficult to understand why so little is being done in this state to prevent infection and save lives.