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Hospitality and Events - COVID-19

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Tags: COVID-19, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, the threat of Delta coming into Tasmania is very present. So far, the state has done an extraordinary job in keeping it out of the island. We've seen what's happened in New Zealand, where even with an immediate lockdown after one case, there's been a big balloon. So we must do everything to take it seriously. Dr Veitch made a comment yesterday that there had been some pressure to liberalise settings. He was referring to public health restrictions in place at the moment. This was in the context of a discussion about whether they were strong enough, given that we have very few relative to other states.

Last year, Steve Old from the THA was publicly pressuring the Government to relax COVID 19 health restrictions preventing vertical drinking in bars and clubs. Can you tell me if you've had any pressures on you from Mr Old or others in the industry to relax restrictions still in place in Tasmania?

Ms COURTNEY - More broadly, across both hospitality and events, there's definitely been advocacy from a range of stakeholders on wanting to ease restrictions. However, I can confidently say that the engagement, particularly with the THA, has been very helpful and also very understanding of the fact that we are in a global pandemic, so it's been really constructive.

Ultimately, and I'll make it really clear, the decisions about restrictions are under a Public Health order, they are a matter under Dr Veitch's hand. Ultimately, that is the case.

What we are doing, though, as with the events framework, is to work with Public Health to look at how we can - because different restrictions will have different impacts on an event or a venue. The value State Growth can provide, such as the framework we have at the moment, is being able to provide that detail of which are the big drivers of the economic viability of events. Then we make sure that Dr Veitch gets a public health outcome he wants while trying to maintain events and hospitality as sustainable as possible.

I can say confidently, as an ex health minister, that Dr Veitch will make decisions that he believes have the right public health outcome. That will be the ultimate thing. Then, as Minister for Hospitality and Events, I work with operators to look at how they can be most viable within the restrictions imposed by Public Health.

Dr WOODRUFF - So, you can commit to Tasmanians that, regardless of any future possibility of the state going into a lockdown that might previously require some planned events not to run, even large or signature events your Government has funded, that you will not stand in the way of the public health restrictions or be party to placing any pressure on the director in that regard?

Ms COURTNEY - If there is a lockdown, if we get Delta here and there is a lockdown, I can't see how, even if it was on the eve of a major event, that a major event would go ahead. What we do with Events Tasmania is work with events. Last year, in particular, there were a lot of events that found out only right towards the end that they weren't able to go ahead. Through the grant deeds we have with events, we work closely with them while making sure that they can be sustainable through this. But I want to be really clear that public health advice prevails in these decisions.

As I outlined to Ms White earlier on, we have an unusual situation where we have the threat of Delta and the need to ensure that are we looking at things more conservatively - Jacqui alluded to that with some of the events, juxtaposed with the fact that we are vaccinating and hopefully on a vaccination pathway to have easing. I don't have a crystal ball at what point in time one will prevail over the other, but the work is underway through national cabinet so we can, hopefully, get a nationally consistent pathway through this.

But the Public Health orders are done through the Public Health Act, they are under Dr Veitch's hand, so ultimately that will be a decision for him.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, I hear the QR code Check in TAS app is widely enjoyed by people. It is very simple to use. In many cafes, small businesses and event spaces, there are still paper-based forms people who don't have that technology can fill out. I have had questions about privacy and the data that is collected. Could you please explain how those paper-based systems are managed with regard to privacy, what the rules are, and what checks there are on businesses properly protecting people's privacy?

Ms COURTNEY - You would be better off directing that question through minister Rockliff, because ultimately the bits of paper have been stood up under a Public Health direction; they're not a direction under me. Through my portfolio we work with businesses to encourage and make sure they have the actual app. I understand the back end of it is also run through the Department of Health - they actually run the actual app - so the data associated with those and the legal instruments around the mechanisms of even being able to have them would be better directed to the Minister for Health.