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Speech: COVID19 Response Expiry Bill 2021

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (17:38): I rise very briefly to join my colleague the Hon. Mark Parnell in expressing support for the bill before us. I also take this opportunity to note that, while this is a very simple bill and extends what has become 'business as usual' in a year that was not at all 'business as usual', we are looking forward to a more productive debate on a more complex bill in terms of how we operate in the ongoing world dictated to us by the pandemic.

I look forward as well to the interim report of the COVID-19 oversight committee that is due to come to this place to inform the next debate. I do, however, want to put on the record some concerns, echoing the Hon. Connie Bonaros's concerns, that in our haste and in our working together cohesively to manage this crisis many things are going through to the keeper that should not be, mental health being one of them. The words of the Mental Health Commissioner to that particular committee were certainly, I think, a clarion call for more transparency and a parliament that is given the opportunity to have full information.

That particular committee does not have full information coming through from the Transition Committee and from other bodies. I am incredibly disappointed. It has been put on the public record that, for example, the chief executive of Health said that he had provided a raft of information—indeed, I think the quote was 'a package of information'—on the medi-hotels which was not forthcoming to the committee. He then attempted to say that he had meant a completely other document about the football players' families who sought an exemption.

That document, I think, was some one or two or possibly three pages long. I cannot see how he would have confused that with a raft—a package—of information on the medi-hotels. That beggared belief, and our patience as parliamentarians is wearing somewhat thin. We have been told to just let everything go through to the keeper and that it is all under control.

It is to the credit of this government that they have taken the health advice, that our State Coordinator has effectively managed this pandemic, but we cannot ignore, for example, the utter communication debacle that was the Christmas period of the border closures—people being put in a medi-hotel for a few hours with incorrect information.

My office takes many constituent inquiries. Some constituents were quite rightfully told, under various COVID directions, that they needed to get tested, whether they were at the Sturt campus at Flinders University in that period of time, and then refused COVID testing when they actually got there because SA Health was not on the same page or indeed local health networks were on different pages—CALHN, SALHN and NALHN are all actually reading from different hymn books. That lack of communication and clarity and transparency does go a long way to really ringing some significant warning bells that this is not operating as smoothly as it should be by now and that more transparency, not less, is required into the future.


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