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Failure to Deliver


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 8 March 2022

Tags: COVID-19, Political Leadership

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Ferguson, you spent five of the seven minutes you were allocated hoeing into Labor and not telling us much at all about what your Government has delivered.

Mr Speaker, I want to talk about this Government's failure to deliver a COVID-19 safe Tasmania - a failure, despite the promises to teachers and parents and students to deliver COVID-19 safe schools. We found out today in Question Time, that there are 1747 Tasmanian students in public schools infected with COVID-19. That is not a safe school number. That is evidence of failure. That is evidence of playing Russian roulette with the health of our children.

This is a Government that sent unvaccinated, unmasked, under-12s back into face-to-face learning, when it would not even acknowledge COVID-19 is airborne. It cannot even do the basics on the science of COVID-19. What we have now, is rampant transmission in our schools. Yet, we had the minister for Education yesterday making the extraordinary claim:

After a positive start to the school year, the Tasmanian Liberal Government is releasing stage 2 of its COVID Safe Schools Plan which outlines how schools will continue to safely manage COVID-19 for the remainder of Term 1.

COVID-19 has not been safely managed - 1747 infected Tasmanian children and young people is not a sign of safely managing COVID-19. It is a sign of failure; failure to protect their health. Full stop. End of story.

We have a Government that has been dishonest about COVID-19, minimising the potential impact of this virus on human health. Now we have one in 10 Tasmanians infected with COVID-19.

This Government has failed to be truthful about COVID-19, the impacts on human health and it has failed to mention long COVID. Long COVID is now an established medical truth. Somewhere in the vicinity of 30 per cent of people who are infected with COVID-19 are left with enduring health effects three months/six months/12 months/18 months after infection; even in mild cases - and I use that term more carefully than the Government does, and even when they did not require hospitalisation.

A government that was open and honest with its people would acknowledge long COVID; but it has not. Instead, we have had the Premier and the Health minister and indeed Tasmanian Public Health constantly minimising this virus, describing it as 'mild', refusing to acknowledge it is airborne, telling us it is safe to send unvaccinated children into schools, removing mask protections while cases each day are in the high hundreds.

Today, as I understand it, there are over 1000 confirmed COVID-19 positive cases in the past 24 hours, yet this Government is removing masked protections, and it does not even have the guts to table the Public Health advice it is standing behind. Tasmanians have a right to see the information provided by Public Health to Government that underpinned the decision to remove mask protections. If the Premier is so confident that the advice is the right advice, he should just table it. It is unjust, unreasonable and dishonest to hide that advice from the people of Tasmania.

We still have not had anyone in Government admit that COVID-19 is airborne. We still have advice going out from Tasmanian Public Health into aged and disability care providers that says COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through contact and droplets. All last week, we had members of the Government basically describing the two Greens in here as hysterical, tinfoil hat wearers. We have an epidemiologist on our team. People who wear tinfoil hats are people who do not listen to the science. We know who is wearing the tinfoil hats in this place, and they are sitting on the Government benches. Dr Woodruff, particularly, knows what she is talking about on this topic. I have done a lot of reading and thinking over the summer, and I believe what this Government is doing is shameful.

There has been a failure to account for the aged, the elderly and the immunocompromised. When we remove masks from retail and hospitality settings, office settings, we are saying to a person living with a disability or a cancer patient, stay at home if you want to be safe. Yesterday, we had the secretary of the Department of Health, Ms Morgan-Wicks, very kindly saying that if you are immunocompromised or you have a disability or you care for someone who does, you can still wear a mask. That's nice. But basically, what it says to those groups of Tasmanians, is that the Government does not care enough about you. As if they did not already get that message from the federal minister, Mr Colbeck, who went off to the Ashes rather than front a Senate committee on the Government's failed COVID 19 response in aged care.

There has been a failure to listen to real experts like Professor Raina MacIntyre from the Kirby Institute. Professor McIntyre says that denial is a major theme during this pandemic. That is what we have seen here, Mr Speaker denialism.