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Government Integrity


Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Tags: COVID-19, Integrity, Political Leadership

Ms O'CONNOR (Clark - Leader of the Greens) - Mr Deputy Speaker, that was a particularly vacuous contribution from Ms Ogilvie. All of it written down, none of it off the cuff, written for her and glossing over a number of really significant integrity challenges that this Liberal Government has. She completely ignored an evidence-based report by the Australia Institute which found there are significant problems with the Integrity Commission, that it has never bared its fangs, and that it is losing the trust of the Tasmanian people. That is a fact.

We had questions on the Integrity Commission in the last sitting and from the Premier on down, they said 'nothing to see here, no problem'. The integrity challenges that this Government has cannot be mitigated by four Dorothy Dix question times, a whole army of spin doctors. It is cultural, and the culture with this Government is to default to secrecy or to straight up lies. I have been around this place long enough to see Governments of various different colours come through here, and I have never seen such cultural dishonesty as a I have from this Liberal Government since 2014 under two different Premiers.

I want to talk about a really glaring example of this Government's lack of integrity, its willingness to gaslight Tasmanians during a public health crisis. The Friday before last, the Government - not in line, I think, with the best of Public Health advice - removed all mask protections, fundamentally. Within 48 hours our case count had gone from around 900 to more than 1800 cases. It is a fact that community transmission here is so high that if Tasmania was a country it would be in the top 15 countries in the world for cases per million.

It is also a fact, if you listen to people like Professor Nancy Baxter, that masks protect us against infection and they protect other people against infection. What did we get from Mr Barnett, who by the way, I remind the House, sat in here for a period of time this morning without his mask on, showing complete disrespect for other members in this place and staff who work in this place, some of whom are significantly immunocompromised? We got an outright epidemiological lie, the lie being, 'Oh, this sudden doubling in reported case numbers has nothing to do with the removal of masks. It's all about the new sub-variant BA.2', or words to that effect.

Then that lie was compounded by the Premier himself, who restated it. They expected Tasmanians to believe that over the course of the weekend suddenly BA.2 had arrived, and it was just because of that that we saw a doubling in reported case numbers - an outright untruth on the public record. The BA.2 variant appeared in Denmark around 20 February, well before that weekend after the removal of mask mandates, and it was rampaging on the mainland well before the Premier bowed to the business sector and removed mask protections.

I have great faith in readers of the Mercury newspaper. I love this letter about Mr Barnett:

In under a week since the masks came off, COVID infections have doubled to the 1859 cases announced Wednesday, the new BA.2 variant sweeping the state copping mostly of the blame. Minister Barnett assured the population the surge in numbers, although entirely expected, had nothing to do with no masks. How does he know that? Has the Government vetted every new case to determine the number of mask-wearing infections? If masks were the answer to previous virus upsurge being put into check, it stands to reason that taking them off will permit the virus, no matter what variant, to freely occupy its nasal and throat staging areas and then when ready strike out as usual. Masks are effective, as proven over the past two years, so remove them under ministerial advice at your own risk. Mine is staying right where it has been since the start of the pandemic.

Noel Christianson, Punchbowl.

Another letter writer says:

Just when I thought that I'd heard the most ridiculous statements from some party politicians in the lead-up to the federal election, out comes a Tasmanian Liberal minister with the one that took the prize. In a statement to the media concerning the recent spike in Tasmanian COVID cases, our minister bumbled out that it was not caused by dropping the state mask mandate, but rather that the variant was extremely infections.

Really? A person of minimal intelligence would assume that if there is an infections virus rampant in our society, then one way to minimise its spread would be to wear a mask, thereby dropping the chance of catching or passing it on by some 80 per cent.

If this is the best intellect that our state Government can offer to our community, then we'd all better pray to the fairies at the bottom of the garden for help.

Steve Willet, Spring Beach.

Mr Deputy Speaker, I lay on the record that today Tasmania recorded 1825 new cases of coronavirus. I also note that since 15 December some 20 000 Tasmanian young people under the age of 19 have contracted coronavirus. Right now, we have more than 10 000 active cases.

Congratulations, government, is this the duty of care that Ms Ogilvie was talking about in her vacuous contribution? This Government has failed in its duty of care to the people of Tasmania. It has failed people with disability who are contracting this virus in increased numbers because they cannot protect themselves. It fails on integrity, it fails on the decency to do the right thing and apologise to a victim/survivor and it fails on duty of care.