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State of the Health System

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Tags: Health Crisis, Macquarie Point, Stadium

Dr WOODRUFF (Franklin) - Mr Speaker, I am continually perplexed and disturbed at the unhinged priorities of this Government, and incredibly distressed at the Premier's lack of, not just heart, but mental capacity to look at the evidence he is confronted with. He is making decisions about putting a minimum of $375 million into a stadium but the evidence is that it will blow out to much greater than $750 million. An investment into that at the same time as he is failing to do what other governments are doing at the moment, in this enduring COVID 19 pandemic. That is to invest in ambulances, paramedics, doctors and nurses, and in our hospital system; our infrastructure. All of these things are critical priorities. To have a premier, a minister for health, who ought to understand the pressures on the health system yet chooses to make a decision like this is unbelievable. I support the other members who have noted for the record that there is not one single person among the most ardent footy supporters I have met who has supported this stadium.

I do not know what tiny little echo chamber the Premier and his advisers live in, but I can tell you they are on their own. Nobody who understands what Tasmania is experiencing in our health system supports a new stadium.

It is the job of the Minister for Health to look at the reality of what we are experiencing. Nothing could be more emblematic of his failure to engage his reason, his brain and his heart, and look at what is happening with COVID 19 and this Government's failed response.

We have continual pressure to remove the only health protection that will prevent people becoming infected in the first place - the wearing of the mask in indoor settings or other high-risk settings. Continual pressure from this Government even inside this Chamber to remove masks, to create an unsafe workplace.

It is true that the number of daily infections in Australia s is on the decline. However, there are a high number of daily infections in Australia, a far higher number of people hospitalised in Australia every day from COVID 19 than from other respiratory illnesses. Infection, we find increasingly from research, leads to serious complications for the health of every person who is infected and reinfected. Each time we get reinfected, the risks increase.

Everybody would like to pretend that we can live in a world where this virus has just disappeared and it can fade into the background furniture along with all the other pathogens that we live with. That is not what the evidence and the scientists are telling us. That is not the experience of overseas. We know it is an incredibly clever virus. It is a deadly and disabling virus. You cannot try to pretend that it is just like the flu. Professor Brendan Crabb was quoted in The Conversation today on this: around 1700 people have been hospitalised Australia-wide with the flu this year yet, in just one day in July, 5429 COVID 19 patients were in hospital. How can you possibly make the comparison between flu and a virus that has a high risk of increasing long term damage to the lungs, heart, brain, kidneys and immune system? Four per cent of people infected with Omicron - the so-called 'mild' version of coronavirus - will go on to have long-term complications.

The Premier and his Government are continuing to peddle the mistruth that there is just something called a post-COVID syndrome. It is potentially much more serious than that. This is not just about people living with a post-viral illness. It is about people getting strokes in their 30s because they have sticky blood vessels. That is the untechnical term for medical professionals - sticky blood vessels. This is why we find these high rates of people with stroke.

The latest research, in The Lancet just two months ago, is showing that we also have neurological and psychiatric conditions that increase not just for a couple of months but, in a study of 1.3 million people, persist for more than two years the increased risk of psychotic disorder, cognitive deficit, dementia, epilepsy and seizures. They are not just in adults, although adults are at higher risk, but also in children. It is also the case that the impacts were similar during the Delta and the Omicron outbreaks.

The Government has in response, what the Premier said to us, a long COVID clinic. What absolute rot. It is a website which, if you spend a lot of time as I did trying to find the information squirrelled there, shows you that it is a virtual clinic which might be available to you if you go to your GP and they refer you, and you might get contacted a week later. There is no support and complete denial of reality.