Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 20 JULY 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Good afternoon.

You’ve all obviously met Mr Challen and have known him well and had the benefit of a briefing with him. In fact, you probably had a longer briefing with him than what I had in terms of the report that’s before us.

But firstly I’ll start just with a couple of updates.

In terms of the steps that we’ve taken and put in place to protect Tasmanians, our border controls remain our strongest defence.

We’ve made no apologies in terms of turning back Victorians, and we’ve certainly ensured that we have had a strict quarantine process available for those who have entered the state.

In fact, at the moment we have more than 600 people in our hotel quarantine arrangements, and just under 1,000 people that are still being quarantined at home.

I want to provide just a very quick update on a matter that I was just notified of just a couple of minutes ago.

We are currently investigating a possible positive case in the South in one of our hotel quarantine facilities.

There’ll be a further update on that later today, when more details are to hand.

That is all the information that I have at the moment, but I wanted to ensure that you were brought up to speed and we’ll put out a statement once more details are available.

But what is important, I want to make this point, I’ve said to Tasmanians on many occasions that we will see positive cases.

Importantly, this one has been picked up in our hotel quarantine, and as I’ve said, it’s suspected at the moment. There are further tests to be done and then we’ll have more to say.

But, we are in a good place, compared to certainly Victoria, New South Wales and the challenges that they’re facing.  You know, our borders have stood us in good stead, and it’s important that we continue to maintain those strong border arrangements.

As I’ve previously indicated, this coming Friday I’ll provide an update on our view in terms of our border arrangements going forward and whether or not there will be travel to some of the safer states and jurisdictions.

But, again, and I made this point very clear, that I’ll be guided by Public Health advice every step of the way in terms of the steps that we take moving forward.

Now, moving to the matter at hand today.

As a Government obviously in terms of the challenges that we have faced as a result of COVID-19, we’ve put in place an unprecedented level of Government support to make sure that both in an economic and social sense we can support our community through this.

The support initiatives total in excess of one billion dollars already.

In fact, it’s been recognised around the country that it’s one of the most significant state and territory packages that has been provided to ensure that we can continue to support both our economy and our community, as we work our way through this.

The Australian Government has also provided over $270 billion’ worth of support as we work our way through it, and Tasmania’s local councils, and I should give them a nod as well, they have provided more than $40 million already in response initiatives and have utilised nearly $150 million of the interest-free loan capacity that we’ve provided.

We do know that the impacts of coronavirus will be with us for some time.

One of the important steps that we took was to put in place the Premier’s Economic and Social Recovery Advisory Council which is led by Mr Challen as Chair.

Importantly, I consulted with Mr Challen early in June as the Chair of PESRAC in terms of a first step in terms of the initiatives that we would take in regards to construction, and we rolled out during the month of June a $3.1 billion package of both measures to support infrastructure and construction, but also an effective doubling of our infrastructure spend at a State Government level as well, increasing that to $1.8 billion over the coming two-year period.

The challenge that we face moving forward is how we ensure that we have a strong economy under the circumstances but, importantly, also that we rebuild the social fabric of Tasmania as well.

You know, the challenges that we faced in terms of lockdowns, you know, have been devastating for many small businesses and many communities, and it’s important that even now as we start to see life being breathed back into our economy that we take those steps that we can to ensure that we can support those communities as we rebuild and, importantly, manage our way through what will be a challenging period of time for the state.

Mr Challen today has provided me with the report that we will now utilise to consider immediate initiatives, but also to inform the upcoming November budget.

PESRAC, as it was announced last week, will also now consult broadly with the Tasmanian community in terms of pulling together a final report which will be received by Government, I would expect, early in the New Year, which will chart a pathway for the medium to long term.

I’ve only had a couple of moments to consider the report, as you have here, and today I won’t be ruling in or ruling out anything in the report.

We’ll provide it to the relevant Departments, who’ll provide us with advice, and we will utilise that advice in terms of whether we take immediate steps on certain initiatives or whether we include those in the November budget.

Importantly, the 64 recommendations that I’ve looked at today cover the widespread, both economic, community and social challenges that we face as a state, and I want to thank PESRAC very much, under Mr Challen’s leadership, for the work that they have put in.

It is comprehensive, it has been put together in a very short period of time, and I think, on first glance, the information that is here will stand the state in good stead as we move forward.

With that being said, I’ll hand over to Mr Challen to provide his views on the report and some of the learnings that he has taken on board as a result of the work that PESRAC have undertaken in the past weeks and months.