Question from Mrs. O’CONNOR to the FIRST, Mr. GUTWEIN
When you made the decision to send unvaccinated and unmasked primary school children back to classrooms during the raging community transmission of COVID-19, you assured parents, students and teachers in Tasmania that your government had a plan to return to school safely and that schools would provide a COVID Safe Learning Environment.
Within two and a half weeks, eight out of 10 schools in Tasmania had reported COVID 19 infections. Burnie Support School, with some of our most vulnerable pupils, was forced to close and since last Friday the number of daily cases had increased by almost 50% since the start of the school.
Your plan clearly failed to provide COVID-safe learning environments for unvaccinated and unmasked elementary students, where most infections and outbreaks have occurred. They were exposed to a deadly virus with known long-term consequences. Will you now apologize to Tasmanian parents, students and teachers for failing to keep schools safe?
Mr President, I thank the leader of the Greens for this question. I have to admit I waited two months to respond to some of the garbage she started with over Christmas time.
Mrs. O’Connor – I didn’t unleash a deadly virus on half a million people.
Mr SPEAKER – Mrs. O’Connor, order.
Mr GUTWEIN – Some of the crazy stuff she started with over Christmas time.
Mrs. O’CONNOR – Point of order, Mr President. This question is asked on behalf of students, teachers and parents in Tasmania –
Mr SPEAKER – Madam O’Connor, this is not a point of order and you know it, confusing the Prime Minister in his response. You had a huge preamble that went to a lot of places and I’m going to give the Prime Minister an opportunity to address those issues.
Mr GUTWEIN – Thank you, Mr President. Some of the crazy stuff she was talking about – eugenics is where you went. She was out there, day in and day out, trying to scare people, doing her best. I have with me some of the things she did, which was just amazing.
The member said it would lead to a mass disabling event and death, and also crush the local healthcare system and hammer the economy. She went on to say that it “attacks the brain” and that “politics and the profit motive have undermined an effective and ongoing public health response.” “We are caught up in a massive health and social experiment that is politically driven.” You should be ashamed of yourself.
Mr. Speaker, the only thing I have done since day one is follow public health advice, and that advice has been followed to the letter. Today, what we see is that our community is showing confidence. What we are seeing now is our community transitioning to a place where they can live with COVID 19. What we are seeing in our schools is simply the fact that our schools are a reflection of our society. We have always said that we will see an increase in cases in schools. This has happened in other jurisdictions. The important point I’m making here, and very strongly, is that our system works. We offer rapid antigen tests that allow children to be tested at home before going to school. When declarations of outbreaks in schools occur, children are at home. They’ve been tested, they’re at home, they’re not running around the classroom as some would have you believe.
I am disappointed with the way you behaved during this Christmas period. You’ve gone from following health advice to wanting to scare people. You should be ashamed of yourself.