You are here

Premier – Covid

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 5 June 2023

Tags: COVID-19, State Budget

Ms O'CONNOR - Premier, I have some questions about your work on National Cabinet. On what evidence did you base your push with former New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet to remove five-day isolation on -

Mr ROCKLIFF - That's a National Cabinet decision, Ms O'Connor -

Ms O'CONNOR - You led the charge, with Dominic Perrottet. The public record is very clear about that. Both of you went in and argued for the removal of five-day isolation. Did you have evidence?

Mr ROCKLIFF - And agreed to by the Prime Minister and every other Premier.

Ms O'CONNOR - I'm still waiting. Was there an evidence base that enabled you, as Health Minister and Premier, to argue that it was safe to remove mandatory five-day isolation?

Mr ROCKLIFF - AHPPC and advice from the Chief Medical Officer at the time supported the National Cabinet decision, if my memory serves me correctly.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is interesting. If you have a policy of forced infection, I am sure that is true. Did you lead the charge with former New South Premier, Dominic Perrottet, to remove five-day isolation, knowing it would lead to an increase in infection, reinfection, disability and death?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Ms O'Connor, we have been working very hard and transitioning out of an intense COVID-19 environment. Rules and regulations have lessened since the height of COVID-19. That was another step in that process. I am happy to take this on board again in Health.

Ms O'CONNOR - Don't worry, Dr Woodruff is looking forward to having a chat.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I'm pleased about that.

Ms O'CONNOR - As you know, Premier, Tasmania has the highest COVID-19 transmission rate in the country, by a significant margin. I noted what you said before, about the importance of keeping children safe and well. When you are constantly allowing them to be reinfected with a novel coronavirus, that is not possible. According to the most recent Tasmania Health information, for the fortnight ending 25 May, five to 17-year-olds had the highest rate of COVID-19 infection per 1000 people in Tasmania. Do you think it is satisfactory and responsible to allow the continued infection and reinfection of children with a novel coronavirus that is vascular, that causes long-term sequelae, brain damage, increases in childhood diabetes and kidney issues along with a whole range of other compounding sequelae? Do you think that is keeping children safe and well?

Mr ROCKLIFF - You are merging two very important areas of responsibility.

Ms O'CONNOR - This is about National Cabinet, where you have been completely irresponsible. But, yes, carry on.

Mr ROCKLIFF - National Cabinet has made a very clear decision. All the Premiers and the Chief Ministers sit within National Cabinet, including the Prime Minister. I understand your point of view -

Ms O'CONNOR - No, you don't. I don't think you have allowed it to permeate your consciousness, otherwise you would not be conducting yourself this way as Premier.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Ms O'Connor, I understand your view on matters relating to COVID 19 and related safe behaviours. We have spoken about it and I have listened to your public comments.

Ms O'CONNOR - Have you read any of the research?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I have read a lot of research, particularly when it comes to long COVID-19. That is why we have our own areas where we are reaching into the long COVID 19 support for individuals, which I announced in Sheffield last year.

Ms O'CONNOR - If you had read the research on long COVID-19, you would understand that it relates to viral persistence in the body. How can you get up in parliament as the Premier and Minister for Health and not confirm that COVID-19 is airborne - you refuse to - and then tell people, as you did last week, that in order to protect themselves from COVID 19 they should wash their hands and take personal responsibility,?

Mr ROCKLIFF - There is an area of personal responsibility for all of us.

Ms O'CONNOR - It used to be called public health, before public health was sidelined by your Government and every other government in Australia.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We take advice from public health.

Ms O'CONNOR - And you ignore it, don't you?

Mr ROCKLIFF - No, we have always worked very closely with public health.

Ms O'CONNOR - Is Dr Veitch hiding in a cupboard somewhere in the Department of Health? Where have you put him?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Dr Veitch is not in a cupboard. He is still working and we have worked with the Director of Public Health along the way since the start of COVID-19.

Ms O'CONNOR - Just one final question on this line of questioning. Can you confirm that neither yourself nor your Director of Public Health has taken questions from the media at a COVID-19 press conference since July last year?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I couldn't speak for Dr Veitch. I get COVID-19 questions in media conferences from time to time.

Ms O'CONNOR - It's very reactive, though, isn't it? You're not doing anything proactive to help Tasmanians minimise the risk of infection, reinfection, disability and death. What are you doing?

Mr ROCKLIFF - We're investing significantly in COVID@homeplus and we're still reinforcing COVID-safe behaviours.

Ms O'CONNOR - Once people are infected.

CHAIR - Ms O'Connor, please let the Premier answer.

Mr ROCKLIFF - We are encouraging vaccination. We have a winter flu and respiratory illness strategy which we launched last week, if my memory serve me correctly.

Ms O'CONNOR - You know COVID is not just a respiratory illness, don't you? It's a vascular illness, it gets into every organ in the body.