Peter Gutwein

Premier of Tasmania

PRESS CONFERENCE - 8 APRIL 2020

Premier Peter Gutwein

Last night, a further nine cases, eight of them on the North West Coast.

This is a very challenging situation that we have. I do want to first of all tough extend on behalf of the Tasmanian Government my heartfelt condolences to the family of the other person who passed away yesterday in the North West Regional Hospital.

Now, this is our third death, and I’ve been saying consistently right throughout this period that this is serious. It is serious. Tasmanians need to understand that this is not a game. This is life and death.

To the family of the three people now that have passed away, you have my heartfelt condolences and, on behalf of the Tasmanian Government, we are so very sorry that you are in this position.

But what we need to do now is to ensure that we take every step that we possibly can to ensure that we protect Tasmanians, that Tasmanians do everything that they possibly can to protect themselves and, importantly, that they follow the rules, stay home and that they save lives.

I want to talk briefly about the North West Coast today. Obviously, we have an outbreak on the North West Coast. It is important that those people that live on the North West Coast follow the rules. I’ve spoken with the Police Commissioner this morning, and the North West Coast will have special attention paid to it over coming days and over the course of Easter.

You know, it is important that you don’t go out, unless it is for essential purposes, either to go to work. Over the Easter period there will be no school, so that can’t be counted. If it’s for essential supplies, for medical services or for exercise.

But I want to say to the North West Coasters, you know, this is not a game, it’s not a drill. It is serious, and we need you to work with us. Don’t think that it’s an opportunity to pack up the trailer and head to the shack, because it’s not. That is breaking the law. Ensure, if you can, that you stay close to where you live.

The most important thing in ensuring that we can track and trace this virus is that if people will self-isolate, if they will follow the rules, then that will assist our public health officials to ensure that we can get on top of this. We need to take every step that we possibly can, and as a Government we are urging you to take those steps.

I want to especially give a callout to leaders on the North West Coast today. I’ve spoken with Luke Sayer from The Advocate this morning. You know, I think it’s important that mayors on the North West Coast, that community leaders on the North West Coast actually do their bit. If you’re on Facebook, send a Facebook message to those people that you represent or those people that might know you, and ask them very clearly, demand of them, that they follow the rules, that they stay home, that they stay safe and, importantly, that they save lives. You know, it’s important that as a community that we all work together to ensure that we can get an outcome, that we can flatten the curve and that we can get on top of this thing.

You know, this outbreak on the North West Coast concerns me, concerns me greatly, but we will do everything that we can as a Government to ensure that we work with the community, but we want the community to work with us as well to ensure that we can get on top of this and that we can get it sorted.

We’ve led the nation in making some of the most difficult decisions. We banned cruise ships, we put in place the strongest border controls in the country. We have a very simple message that you should stay home and that will help us to save lives, that you shouldn’t leave your home unless it’s for essential purposes. You know, you shouldn’t go to your shack. You know, you can’t launch your boat out of your municipality.

You know, please, listen to the rules. This is serious. These rules are there to save your lives, importantly, they are there to save the lives of people that you love and your community. You know, we need you to work with us to help us on this.

There was some modelling at a high level that was released yesterday by the Prime Minister that takes into account some mathematical construct based on the experiences elsewhere. There is modelling that is now being worked on in terms of each jurisdiction and the country based on our own baseline. That modelling will be released in coming weeks.

What it does show though very clearly is that the steps that we have taken will flatten the curve. It shows very clearly that the work that we have been undertaking will have an impact and, importantly, I think that we can see in terms of where the country is as a whole and, importantly, where we are as a state that these measures are working. But, importantly, we’ve got to maintain our discipline, we’ve got to do everything that we possibly can to flatten this curve, to get on top of this, to keep people safe.

And the most important thing people can do is to stay at home, unless they need to go out for essential services, ensure that they appropriately socially distance, ensure that they wash their hands and have good hygiene and, importantly, care for those people around you. You know, don’t go and visit your parents. If you love them, don’t turn up at your parents’ home. Go give them a call, touch base with them, you know, ensure that you are doing the right thing to keep people safe. You know, we need you to work with us on that.

I want to touch briefly on some matters from national cabinet yesterday. The Prime Minister, along with the Leaders, we’ve agreed to a mandatory code of conduct to be legislated across all states and territories regarding commercial tenancies. That will need to be legislated, and as a result, in coming weeks, at a date still to be determined, we will be recalling the Parliament, so that we can have that code legislated. And I want to explain the principles behind that.

In terms of commercial tenancies, the legislation that we introduced in the COVID Bill a couple of weeks ago, enables us through an order to ensure that a commercial tenant can’t be evicted for the period of the emergency, nor can a landlord use a ratchet clause in their lease to increase the rent during that period.

The commercial code goes further. What it attempts to do is to ensure that all the parties involved work together to get an outcome, and that includes the banks who are currently offering deferrals in terms of interest and capital repayments, and it includes the landlord considering what they could do and how they could assist their tenant. It concerns the tenant as well. And for any tenant that has the capacity to pay rent, then they should be continuing to pay rent. This is about businesses that have been either closed down or have had a substantial decrease in their turnover. It’s about the State Government playing a part and it’s about Local Government playing a part. It’s about all of us coming together to share some of the load, so we can get an outcome that we can allow business to hibernate. And at the end of the day, once we get through this, that that business can then come back to life and ensure that we’ve got businesses operating and landlord and tenants able to continue with their business.

But it will mean coming back to Parliament, it will mean legislating and ensuring that we’ve got a framework and a structure in place under a national code.

Coming back to Parliament will also provide an opportunity for the Parliament to consider whether or not with the deferral of the Rosevears and the Huon elections that representation can continue for a period until an election can be held. We will be considering that, and the Government will have more to say on these matters in coming days and weeks.

I do want to just touch on the circumstances that we find ourselves in at the moment. I said that there will be better days than others, there will be good days and there will be bad days.

At the moment we’re dealing with this outbreak on the North West Coast. It is important that we do everything that we possibly can to get on top of that. The THS and Public Health have been aggressively tracking and tracing. They have utilised interoperable ability and we have other staff from other agencies that have been helping as well. You know, it is important that we follow this as quickly as we possibly can, that we work to find the source but, importantly, where we have contacts, known contacts, that we self-isolate. And the work is underway at the moment, we are aggressively doing that.

That is what we can do. What we need other people on the North West Coast to hear the message loud and clear today. Follow the rules, work with us, stay at home and save lives. You know, I couldn’t be more clearer.

You know, and I would hope that community leaders on the North West Coast would join with me, join with the Government, join with the Leaders of the other parties, Bec White and Cassy O'Connor, independents like Madeleine Ogilvie, the Speaker of the House, my Cabinet and our Members that represent the Parliament, and come out and actually send that message to your people.

You know, we need to ensure that there is a deafening cry from Leaders on the North West Coast, sending out that message to their people that we’ve got to follow the rules.

You know, we’ve got Easter coming up. We’ve done everything that we possibly can. We’ve removed the opportunity to go camping in our parks. We’ve removed the opportunity to launch your boat out of your municipality. We’ve said that you should stay in your primary residence. We’ve provided rules in terms of when you can leave the house and for what circumstances you can. But you’ve got to follow those rules. You know, I’m asking you to do that.

We will have an increased police presence. They will pay special attention. Don’t be surprised if you’re stopped by a police officer in coming days. Don’t be surprised if you’ve gone down to your shack when you shouldn’t have done it if there’s a knock on the door. You know, you need to know that we are taking this seriously. We need you to take this seriously. We need you to work with us. We need everyone to do their bit, and we will get on top of this thing.

But all of the sacrifices that have happened, the ten of thousands of jobs that have been lost, the thousands of businesses that have been closed. All of that will be for naught if you don’t do your bit, if you don’t stand up as a Tasmanian and actually help us to get through this and, importantly, to keep people safe, to ensure that people stay at home, and together we will save lives.

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