Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 5 AUGUST 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

I’ve got with me the Commissioner of Police and State Controller Darren Hine, and obviously D Veitch, and the Commissioner will make some comments and take some questions directly after me, and we can move to Dr Veitch if there are any questions on Public Health as well.

Firstly, I would just like to extend my best wishes to all Tasmanian that have been impacted by the very difficult weather conditions in the last 24 hrs.

I also want to thank our hardworking emergency crews, volunteers, road clearing contractors, the police who responded and certainly our health workers that have responded in what have been absolutely freezing conditions.

But I do want to say that, you know, after receiving contact from around the state today and certainly looking at some of the media feeds, you know, it just demonstrates what a connected community we are and how people will reach out and support each other at times like this, and some of the stories that have been coming in in terms of the assistance that has been provided by even local farmers to get tractors out to assist people off roads and other small businesses that have assisted Tasmanians at this difficult time.

Once again it just points to exactly what Tasmania’s all about, and that’s a community assisting and working together.

Importantly, I’d also like to say on the weather, if you are on the roads today, please take care. These are treacherous and dangerous conditions, and it’s important that we all do our very best to ensure that we look after ourselves and those that we love.

I want to just make a couple of comments in terms of Victoria at the moment.

You know, they are in the fight of their life.

As I’ve said, I want to extend my thoughts and the thoughts of the Tasmanian Government, and I’m certain the thoughts of Tasmanians, to Victoria at the moment.

Many Tasmanians obviously have family and friends that live in Victoria.

They are in a very difficult place at the moment with more than 720 new cases today and, unfortunately, 15 deaths. You know, it’s tragic, and our thoughts are with Victoria as they go through this very difficult set of circumstances.

But, you know, it’s obvious, in terms of the measures that have been introduced in Victoria, that they are severe.

But as I have said in this room on many occasions, the virus doesn’t travel by itself, it travels with people, and the steps that are being taken by Victoria to limit the spread of the virus, whilst the measures may seem extreme, you know, I’m hopeful that we will see, obviously, some downward pressure in those case numbers in coming days but, importantly, our best wishes are with them to get on top of this as quickly as they possibly can.

The challenge for Tasmanians now, and one of the things I do want to say to all Tasmanians is that watching what’s occurring on the news will be unsettling for many Tasmanians.

It is a difficult fight that Victoria is having at the moment, and I want to reassure Tasmanians that here in Tasmania, you know, we will continue to take sensible and responsible steps in terms of how we manage the impact of COVID here and, importantly, we are in a safe place.

Importantly, our testing remains high, more than 700 tests in the last 24 hours, more than 71,000 tests in total, and we remain COVID-free.

But I do want make the point, and I’ve said it on many occasions that, you know, there will be a time when we do have a new case, and Tasmanians, you know, should be assured that we have put in place the necessary framework in terms of ensuring that we’ve got Public Health resources, that we’ve got our public hospitals well resourced, that we can contact track and trace, that we can rapidly respond to ensure that we can wrap around it.

But I do know that for many Tasmanians, certainly what’s been said about Victoria and being reported about Victoria, you know, at times the language will be extreme.

They are in a difficult situation, but here in Tasmania we’re in a good spot, and we’re doing everything that we can to remain in that good spot.

I want to just talk about some of the flow-on effects in terms of the Victorian lockdown.

Obviously, Victoria is a large percentage of the Tasmanian export market. Victoria is the port.., has the main port that we receive most of our goods into the state from.

Importantly, the Port of Melbourne remains open, and it is essential and continues to operate fully.

Importantly, in terms of supply lines, in terms of freight, we’ve been assured that those supply lines will be kept open and, importantly, the national coordination team which we have a Member of the Government who is a part of that, it has been meeting regularly and we understand what is occurring in Victoria, importantly, the messaging that were receiving is certainly that in terms of freight and supply for Tasmania, there is no reason for anyone to be concerned.

Importantly, Ministers responsible for freight logistics right around the country will be meeting today, obviously with input from the national coordination team, and we will ensure that we, in the same way that we have managed sensibly and responsibly through the impact of COVID here in Tasmania, that we do so in terms of ensuring that our supply lines remain open throughout this.

I want to also just ensure that Tasmanian businesses know that, should they pick up on an issue in terms of needing supply of any particular item or thing in terms of their business, that they should contact our 1800 number. We want to know early if there are any impacts.

The 1800 number, which is 1800 440 026, the Tasmanian business hotline number.

We have dedicated a resource to that to ensure that in terms of questions that are coming in regards to businesses that are having any challenges as a result of the Victorian situation, that they can make contact early that we can work with them to ensure that we can unblock that, should there be any issues there.

At this time, I’m not aware of any matters that have been raised, I’m certainly not aware of any other challenges that are coming out of the Victorian situation, but it is early days, and I think it’s important that Tasmanians understand that we are engaged, that we are working with our Victorian colleagues, with the national coordination team to ensure that as Victoria goes through this difficult time that the impact on Tasmania is minimal, if at all.

In terms of the Victorian situation again, and again I want to say very clearly to Tasmanians, don’t inform yourself of the circumstances here in Tasmania by watching the news tonight in terms of what is occurring in Victoria.

There is no need to race to the shops to stock up.  There is no need to race to the shops and buy extra supplies. That is just simply not required, it’s not necessary.

And, you know, once again, as I’ve said, you know, we will sensibly and responsibly manage our way through this, and I would ask that Tasmanians sensibly and responsibly manage their way through this.

But, a lot of our news, as we move forward, will be informed by what’s occurring on the mainland, and a lot of that will be concerning to people.

Understand that we’re in good place here in Tasmania, and it’s the intention of the Government and those that are working closely with us that we remain in that spot, and Tasmanians should be assured that what they’re seeing occur elsewhere should have no bearing on the way that they conduct themselves here in the state at this particular point in time.

I think there is a good opportunity for Tasmanians to once again ensure that they do buy local, that they do spend some of their money in Tasmanian shops and they buy Tasmanian produce where they can.

I think it’s been fantastic, the response of Tasmanians over the month of July, and certainly through the month of June, once we started to remove some of the restrictions in the way that they have responded and they supported local businesses, and I would encourage them to continue to do that.

What I would ask all Tasmanians to do is to continue to follow the rules.

Ensure that you have good personal hygiene, that you socially distance. Importantly, test if you’re unwell and, very importantly, and the lesson that Victorians learned, is do not go to work if you are unwell. Do not go to work, get a test.

Do the right thing by yourself, your work mates, your family, your community and ensure that we keep Tasmania safe.

We’re in a good spot. We need to stay there.

So, with that I’ll hand over to the Commissioner to make some comments but, once again, I’d like to thank Tasmanians for their efforts in the last 24 hours.

This has been an extreme weather event, I must admit.

I live on the Tamar River. I would never have expected to receive photos from my family this morning showing snow on the ground and a farm that was white, and I’m certain that there are many others in this state that have received photographs from people all around the state which got to some of the most extraordinary pictures and photographic evidence of, you know, what is no doubt going to be a, you know, a once-in-a-hundred year event in terms of the extreme weather that we’re seeing.

So, thank you all Tasmanians for the work that they’re doing, and I’ll hand over to the Commissioner.

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