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Rebecca White MP | Labor Member for Lyons

In these precarious times, protecting Tasmanians has to come first

From the start of the COVID-19 health crisis, the focus for us all has been on keeping Tasmanians safe.

With an older and more vulnerable population, early action was needed to save lives and prevent the virus from taking hold here. And, even with the introduction of strong border controls, we saw how quickly it can take off, with the outbreak in the state’s North West causing so much pain and hardship.

One of the few positives to come out of the pandemic has been seeing Tasmanians came together and take the precautions needed to get on top of the virus and keep our communities safe, putting our state in an enviable position.

But, as we all watch with growing alarm as the situation interstate worsens, it is clear that there is no room for complacency – we only need to look at Victoria to see how rapidly this virus spreads and how fast conditions can change.

That’s why we need to make our processes as strong as possible – to do all we can to keep COVID-19 out of the state and ensure we don’t see the same thing happening here.

With no active cases in Tasmania, the decision to keep our borders shut to all but essential travellers until at least the end of the month is understandable. But that alone is not enough to protect us from what is happening just across Bass Strait.

As people continue to come into the state every day, protection of public health is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain and troublingly we are seeing too many weak links right now.

Over the past few weeks, concerns have been raised with us about numerous issues relating to arrivals into Tasmania and the potential for a second wave here. Weak points have been identified at various stages of the process.

Among the glaring examples, passengers have been transferred from ports and airports on crowded buses, with no provision of personal protective equipment, and the transfer of passengers from buses to hotel quarantine has been badly managed, with the potential for mingling between passengers and members of the public.

Free TAFE courses, more trainees and infrastructure projects will accelerate Tasmania’s recovery

COVID-19 has had the greatest social and economic impact on Tasmania in a generation.

Many businesses have closed, some permanently, more than 20,000 Tasmanians have lost their jobs and, tragically, 13 people have lost their lives.

The pandemic has also amplified inequality in our community. Before the virus, Tasmania had the highest rate of underemployment in the country, and too many people relied on precarious casual employment. Many of these were the first to lose their jobs when COVID-19 hit.

But we have a unique opportunity to emerge from this crisis a better and fairer state, with opportunities for all Tasmanians.

Labor’s COVID-19 Recovery Package, which will form the basis of Labor’s submission to the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council, is designed to get Tasmanians back into jobs, help those hardest hit by the pandemic, and create a better, fairer and more resilient economy and society.

Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White’s Talking Point on COVID-19.

If you, like me, are watching what is occurring in America and feeling anxiety build in the pit of your stomach as the growing tension over race spills into the streets, then maybe you’re ready to help shine a spotlight on inequality and racism here at home before more time is lost.

It may be a coincidence that the events in America are occurring during Reconciliation Week here in Australia, but it’s a jarring reminder that we have similar problems with inequality, racism and discrimination that must be addressed.

The stories of racism and prejudice in Australia may not make the mainstream media as frequently as they do in America, but the stories exist. And they are equally as shocking.

Tasmanian Labor Leader Rebecca White’s Talking Point on COVID-19.

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on all our lives.

It has caused economic and social upheaval. It has turned life as we knew it on its head.

On behalf of the Labor party I would like to convey our sympathy to those families who have lost loved ones to this insidious virus.

I cannot begin to imagine how awful it must be to be robbed of the opportunity to say goodbye or hold the hand of the person you love as they slip away. This virus is not only taking the lives of people we love but it is taking away our ability to be together as we suffer these heartbreaking moments.

I would also like to recognise and thank all the workers who have continued to support our community throughout this pandemic.

Easter is often a time we share with family and friends doing the things we love best.

This Easter we can’t do any of that. We can’t leave our homes and lots of people can’t go to work to earn a living.

Together, we have to do everything we can to beat this virus.

Please follow the advice of Public Health officials and stay home to protect yourself and protect the community.

These measures aren’t forever; but for right now it’s the best thing we can do to save lives.

This announcement is for workers, people who have lost their job or lost hours and those looking for work. 

Labor, unions and businesses have been calling for a real, guaranteed wage subsidy – one that keeps workers in their jobs. Yesterday the Government said they’ll do just that.

The Federal Government announced a new Job Keeper payment. 

Businesses are encouraged to register now  to make sure their workers can begin to receive the JobKeeper wage subsidy.

Things are changing pretty quickly now with new rules coming into effect last night.

You can keep up to date by checking this website: https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au

Please look after yourself and stay home if you can.

We all know these are extraordinary times. They require an extraordinary response to protect all Tasmanians, especially our most vulnerable.

Together we can get through this.

I wanted to give you an update on coronavirus.

I know these are uncertain times but together as a community we can get through this.

Labor stands ready to work with the Government on any measures necessary to respond earlier and faster to protect the health of Tasmanians.

We are all in this together.

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Rebecca White

Authorised by Lindsay White, 276 Masons Road, Nugent, 7172