Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 3 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Yesterday, I announced a further reinforcement of measures in Tasmania to keep us safe and secure. None of these announcements are easy. They impact on people, they impact on businesses. And, importantly, I want to say to those businesses, you know, we are sorry that we need to take these steps, but we need to ensure that we keep Tasmanian healthy, that we look after their wellbeing, importantly, we look after their safety as well.

In terms of a couple of other matters that I want to touch on. This morning I had another discussion at 07.30 with Rebecca White and Cassy O'Connor and provided them with an update on where matters are up to with the Government. They provided me with a range of things to consider as well. I want to say to both Bec and to Cassy that I really do appreciate the way that they have engaged. It is constructive. I think it’s important that Tasmanians know that their political leaders are all working together to ensure that we get the best outcome for Tasmanians. I also have regular contact with Madeleine Ogilvie and the Speaker as well.

What I want to ensure, as we work our way through this, obviously Parliament is not sitting, that the Government needs to be held to account, and I have no problem at all with that. In terms of the decision that we’re making, I’m fully prepared to accept the responsibility, as is my Cabinet, for what we do. But it’s important that, as a Government and as a group of MPs, that we work together for the best interest of Tasmania, and at this stage the mechanisms that we’ve put in place I think are appropriate, but I’m going to be looking at other mechanisms that can ensure that we provide further accountability and transparency as we move forward, to ensure that Tasmanians understand and, importantly, recognise that their political leaders are working together with their best interests at heart.  And I’ll have more to say on those matters as we move forward through the course of next week.

As I’ve said, in terms of the challenge that we face and the decisions that we’re making, they impact on a lot of people, but they are impacts that I hope people understand are important to ensure their health, wellbeing and safety and, importantly, the health, wellbeing and safety of their loved ones, their families and their community.

Our plan is about ensuring that we have Fortress Tasmania, that we have strong border measures in place and that, importantly, we work very hard as a community to ensure that social distancing and the rules that apply to that are adhered to, that Tasmanians do what they are being asked to do because, at the end of the day, that will stop the spread, that will help us to flatten the curve, and that will ensure that more Tasmanians are kept safe.

Importantly, and it’s a very simple message, stay home and save lives. If you don’t need to leave your home for work or for volunteering, if you don’t need to go out to get essential supplies or medical care, or you’re not going out for exercise, stay home and save lives. It’s important.

We’ve set this for the next four-week period, but it could be longer than that, and I want to ready Tasmanians for that. But, importantly, if we work together, we will all get through this.

I do want to just make the point that in terms of where we are and how we’re tracking against the rest of the country. Go back a couple of weeks and the rate of growth of cases across the country were in the doubled digits. At the moment, across the country over the last three days, the average daily increase has been around 7%. Here in Tasmania it’s 5%. We are below the national average. But I do want to stress that whilst we have taken a range of measures that.., they’ve impacted on people, this is a long game. We cannot get complacent. I said the other day, if this was a football match, we’re not even halfway through the first quarter, and that is the truth of the matter. We need to be disciplined, we need to be responsible, and we need to focus on ensuring that we follow the rules, that we stay home and that we save lives.

I want to just make one point here, just in terms of some feedback that I’ve received. And I have to say that, you know, Facebook is, for someone that had never really paid much attention to it during his previous 18 years of public life, it is a fantastic medium, but it does provide you with the opportunity to understand both the good and the bad of what’s going on. I would ask Tasmanians to be kind to each other. We do have workers out there that need to go to work. We’ve got to keep the power on at our homes, we’ve got to ensure that, you know, our productive industries and agriculture and aquaculture, those other industries that are going to ensure that we are fed, continue to keep going. And so, be kind.

If you see somebody out working, it’s not an opportunity to abuse them and tell them to get into their home. Accept that they have a job to do, a family that they are looking after and, importantly, essential services that they are maintaining for us. So, Tasmanians, please be kind, but be cognisant of the rules.  And if you see somebody blatantly breaking those rules, I would ask that you report it to the.., through the hotline to the police number, and we will follow it up. We want to ensure that we do everything that we possibly can to make you safe and make our community safe, and we’ll follow up any reports.

I terms of next steps. Today, the national cabinet is meeting at 1000, and we’ll discuss a range of matters. The challenge of getting the right landing in terms of commercial leases for tenants and landlords as well, and we accept that for many landlords they have a business too that’s been affected. We understand that many businesses are obviously in very difficult circumstances, either trading on or if they have been forcibly closed, and we need to find a way to ensure that businesses hibernate, so that when we come out the other side, businesses and their staff can reactivate and can continue to provide the services and the opportunity that our economy will need. And so, that will be a key discussion that we’ll be working through.

Foreign workers will be something as well that will be discussed, and visa holders and were they.., and how we support those people that have come to this state or to this country to provide a set of skills but are now finding that they might not have the necessary supports, and we need to consider what we can do there as well.

The other matters that will be discussed will be further restrictions. I understand Victoria have announced some this morning, and I’ll look closely at those. But, I want to make this point. In the positon that we are in at the moment, if we follow the rules, if we do what we are being asked to do, then the need for further restrictions diminishes. Apply social distancing, be sensible and responsible, and we can manage our way through this. But I do want to make the point, and I’ve made it on many occasions, if I am advised that there are further steps that we need to take, I will take those steps in a heartbeat. I will take those steps in a heartbeat. Because, at the end of the day, what we have to do is ensure that we look after the health, wellbeing and safety of our people.

Moving forward from today, our morning press conferences will be shared between myself, Minister Sarah Courtney, the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education Jeremy Rockliff. We will be here for the long haul, and I intend to attend as many of these early morning briefings as I can. I think it’s important. And, certainly, if there are important issues or changes to things that Tasmanians need to be drawn into the loop on, I will attend those every meeting. But what we need to do is put in a system and ensure that we’ve got continuity in terms of these briefings.

Tomorrow, or in fact later this afternoon, I’ll actually be heading north to my family for the first time in three weeks. Tomorrow, Sarah and Jeremy will run the morning conference, and I’ll be back on Sunday.

If I can just say this, to my daughter Millie, it will be her 16th birthday this weekend, and so, Happy Birthday to her, as we work our way through this.

So, I’ll hand over to Sarah, but I do want to say just in finishing, if we work hard on the principle of Fortress Tasmania, if we work hard on ensuring that we apply the social distancing rules, if we stay home and stay safe, we will save lives. We will save lives. It is difficult, but we all have a job to do, and if we all pull together, then Tasmania and Tasmanians will get through this, and we will come out the other side and we will ensure that we can rebuild Tasmania, we can have the vibrant community, the connected community that we have been so used to. But we’re going to need to work together through this, and I’d ask all Tasmanians to be patent, to be responsible, to do their bit to keep us all safe.

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