Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 6 MAY 2020

Good morning everyone. Today will be, by necessity, relatively short, because we have to get to Parliament.

We had two confirmed new cases yesterday, and the details around those will be provided by the Minister and Dr Scott.

I do want to stress that for many people, the stay at home message is one that they are getting sick of me mentioning. But I want to say I’m going to continue to mention this and I’m going to continue to talk about the rules, because it is going to be so important that we maintain our vigilance, that we maintain our discipline, because as we move to step out of this, each of the stages that I’ll be talking about later in this week in terms of our steps back to rebuilding a stronger Tasmania, we will act on health advice.

And it’s going to be important that through each of the stages that we take that health advice and ensure that the management of the virus is exactly where Public Health want it to be, and that is where, I’m certain, that all Tasmanians want it to be, and that is with no cases. But we need to ensure that we are vigilant and that we are disciplined.

I want to just make the point that whilst we have had two new cases and we do still have 42 active cases, that we have 168 people that have recovered, and that is very good news.

Yesterday at National Cabinet, we received expert advice from the HPPC in terms of how as a country we can move to deal with the second challenge that we’ve got.

The first challenge, which will be with us for some time, was the health crisis.

The second crisis that we have to deal with is the economic crisis, and we need to ensure that we can sensibly move people back into a more normal way of life, but always with social distancing. And that will be challenging, but we need to start taking those steps. And, as I’ve said, on Friday I will outline the steps that we will take.

I want to mention that there was a good discussion yesterday in terms of the bubble, if I can call it that, the Trans-Tasman Bubble, with the New Zealand Prime Minister. And we will continue to work through that process but, obviously, both this country and New Zealand will have to be comfortable, based on Public Health advice, that if we get to a stage where the borders can be opened that we can do so in a way that’s going to keep people safe. And that will be first and foremost in my thinking. But we will continue with that discussion.

Importantly, I did note that there are some Premiers around the country that are talking about opening their borders. I would make this point. In terms of Tasmania, we will work hard to get on top of this virus. We will work hard to ensure we have low numbers cases and, importantly, work towards having zero cases. But our view in terms of dropping our border restrictions will be based on what is happening in those other jurisdictions. Tasmanians, I’m certain, will not accept a relaxation of our border controls whilst the virus is still loose in Victoria or New South Wales or other states. And so, we will work hard here, but our border restrictions will be informed by the national view of what’s occurring elsewhere.  But we will, as I’ve said, continue to take Public Health advice on that.

I do want to just make one point, and I do want to stress this this morning. Six weeks ago, I was being advised to follow the Singaporean model. And there were a lot of voices, many in the medical profession, that were suggesting that we should be adopting and looking at what Singapore had done and the steps that they had taken.

As of last night, when I looked, Singapore had 20,000 cases, or very close to it, and nearly 18 deaths. I think we have to be very mindful that as we step out of this that we don’t have a second wave. And it is going to be crucially important that we rely on Public Health advice, that we take these steps sensibly and cautiously and that, first and foremost, that we have the health, wellbeing and safety of Tasmanians in our thinking.

I do want to mention this morning that I’ve received correspondence back from the AFL, and they’ve informed me this morning that they are moving away from their hub concept and readjusting their thinking and now looking at a fly-in-fly-out model whereby they would fly into destinations in a chartered plane, on the one day in most cases, play a game and then fly out.

They’ve asked for me to seek advice from our Public Health officials, and that’s exactly what I intend to do, and I’ll keep you informed as and when I have further advice in respect of that. But it’s certainly quite clear that in the AFL’s view that they would like to move back to some form of restricted season, but they see now that there is a potential for a fly-in-fly-out model. But, again, we will not do anything that would put Tasmanians at risk, and we will be informed by Public Health advice.

We will return to Parliament today for two days. The important legislation that we’ll be dealing with will be in terms of the commercial tenants and landlords in terms of the national code. This has been a complex piece of legislation, and I’m pleased now with where it’s landed but, importantly, and I want to say this to commercial tenants and landlords, it is important, where you can, that you arrive at an agreement, if you can. It’s important that if you are a tenant and are able to pay your rent that you continue to pay your rent.

But, importantly, what the national code will do will provide a framework whereby we can work with commercial tenants and landlords to find suitable arrangements that will enable a business to hibernate, and as we move through this process come out the other side still able to employ staff, still able to provide services, still able to provide and be a part of our economy.  And the legislation that we are introducing today takes us a further step down that path.

I want to just in finishing, before I hand over to the Health Minister, again make the point that on Friday that we will outline our road map and the steps that we will take and the stages that we will work towards. This will be informed by Public Health advice. It will be important that as we step back carefully and cautiously to a more normal type of life that we remain vigilant and that we follow the rules.

Each of the stages that I’ll outline on Friday will be informed by Public Health, and it will be based on, if you like, the outcome that we see of each of the processes through each of those stages as to whether or not we can move to the next stage.

It is going to be so important that we don’t put ourselves in the position that other countries have, as I’ve mentioned, whereby we see a second wave that is devastating, that catches us unawares and affects and, unfortunately, kills more Tasmanians. We’ve got to be so very careful in that regard.

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