Mrs O’CONNOR (Clark – Leader of the Greens) – Mr. Vice-Chair, that was a particularly empty contribution from Ms. Ogilvie. It was all written, none of it on the fly, written for her, and covering up a number of really serious integrity challenges facing this Liberal government. She completely ignored a factual report from the Australia Institute which revealed that there were significant issues with the Integrity Commission, that she had never shown her teeth and was losing the trust of the Tasmanian people. . It’s a fact.
We had questions about the Integrity Commission in the last session and since the Prime Minister they said ‘nothing to do here, no problem’. The integrity challenges facing this government cannot be mitigated by four question periods from Dorothy Dix, a whole army of spin-docs. It’s cultural, and the culture of this government is to keep it secret or lie. I’ve been here long enough to see governments of different colors pass here, and I’ve never seen such cultural dishonesty as I’ve seen from this Liberal government since 2014 under two different prime ministers.
I want to talk about a really egregious example of this government’s lack of integrity, its willingness to gaslight Tasmanians during a public health crisis. The day before yesterday Friday, the Government – not in conformity, I think, with the best advice of Public Health – basically removed all the protections of the masks. Within 48 hours, our number of cases had gone from around 900 to over 1800 cases. It is a fact that community transmission here is so high that if Tasmania were a country, it would be among the top 15 countries in the world for cases per million.
It’s also a fact, if you listen to people like Professor Nancy Baxter, that masks protect us from infection and they protect others from infection. What did we get from Mr. Barnett, who, by the way, I remind the House, sat here for some time this morning without his mask on, showing complete disrespect for the other members of this place and the staff who work there, some of whom are significantly immunocompromised? We had an outright epidemiological lie, the lie being, “Oh, this sudden doubling in the number of reported cases has nothing to do with the removal of masks.” This is the new sub-variant BA.2′, or words to that effect.
Then, this lie was aggravated by the Prime Minister himself, who rephrased it. They expected Tasmanians to believe that over the weekend BA.2 had suddenly arrived, and it was precisely because of this that we saw a doubling in the number of reported cases – a pure lie and simple in public records. The BA.2 variant appeared in Denmark around February 20, well before this weekend after mask mandates were scrapped, and it was unleashed on the continent long before the Prime Minister bowed to the corporate sector and does not remove mask protections.
I have great confidence in the readers of Mercury Journal. I like this letter about Mr. Barnett:
In less than a week since masks were removed, COVID infections have doubled to the 1,859 cases announced on Wednesday, with the new BA.2 variant sweeping the state largely to blame. Minister Barnett assured the public that the increase in numbers, although quite expected, had nothing to do with the absence of masks. How does he know this? Has the government screened each new case to determine the number of mask-wearing infections? If masks were the answer to the previous thwarted viral upsurge, then of course removing them will allow the virus, whatever its variant, to freely occupy its staging areas of the nose and throat, and then , when ready, to strike as usual. Masks are effective, as has been proven over the past two years, so remove them under ministerial advice at your own risk. Mine remains where it has been since the start of the pandemic.
Noel Christianson, Punchbowl.
Another writer of letters says:
Just when I thought I had heard the most ridiculous statements from some party politicians in the run up to the federal election, a Liberal cabinet minister from Tasmania is dating the winner. In a statement to the media regarding the recent spike in COVID cases in Tasmania, our minister clarified that it was not caused by the state’s mask mandate being dropped, but rather that the variant was extremely infectious.
Really? A person of minimal intelligence would assume that if there is an infectious virus plaguing our society, then one way to minimize its spread would be to wear a mask, thus reducing the chances of catching or transmitting it by approximately 80%.
If this is the best intelligence our state government can offer our community, then we all better pray to the fairies at the bottom of the garden for help.
Steve Willet, Spring Beach.
Mr Vice President, I would like to clarify that today Tasmania recorded 1825 new cases of coronavirus. I also note that since December 15 some 20,000 young Tasmanians under the age of 19 have contracted the coronavirus. Currently, we have over 10,000 active cases.
Congratulations, government, is that the duty of care Ms. Ogilvie was talking about in her futile submission? This government has failed in its duty of care to the people of Tasmania. He let down people with disabilities who are contracting this virus in increasing numbers because they cannot protect themselves. It breaches integrity, it breaches decency to do the right thing and apologize to a victim/survivor and it breaches the duty of care.