Elderly Care Minister defends participation in cricket test match during Omicron


Richard Colbeck, Minister of Elderly Care and Sports Protected COVID-19 His choice to decline the invitation to the Parliamentary Commission meeting and go to cricket.

“The test match in Hobart was an important event for Tasmania,” Colbeck said at a parliamentary committee meeting by the Senate Special Committee on February 2.

“Obviously, as Minister of Sport, Minister of Elderly Care Services and Senior Australian, I needed to be aware of that as a problem and was very aware of the situation in which this sector is located.”

Colbeck rejected a request to appear in front of Senate Special Committee and Health Department staff on COVID-19 on January 14 for a hearing, the first day of a three-day ash test in Hobart.

“I am concerned about the impact of the timing of this hearing. The COVID-19 pandemic is at the critical point where a large number of omicrons begin to occur,” he wrote in a letter.

He told the department leader to submit evidence before the committee. [of Health] It is working. “

Colbeck was placed under public scrutiny after being found to be participating in a cricket match on the day of the hearing.

The Commission’s chairman, Labor Senator Katy Gallagher, asked if cricket should be prioritized over elderly care. “We don’t recognize that feature,” Colbeck said.

“Throughout the weekend, I continued to work on issues related to both portfolios, especially on elderly care, even though it was a weekend.”

“On the day of the test match, I wasn’t just cricket. I’m actually working on a problem with a department employee to try to work to manage a problem that was working in geriatric care. So it wasn’t one or the other. “

He suggested that the timing of the match was also a problem because it was late in the afternoon, and it was “hypocritical” to regain his decision to change it.

Colbeck also said he wasn’t the only one in the match and nominated Julie Collins, Tasmania’s companion, the shadow minister of agriculture.

When asked by Gallagher, he was asked why he should “continue” to work, pointing out thousands of COVID-19 cases in the Elderly Housing at that time in January.

Colbeck replied that he took responsibility in all “portfolio areas” seriously. I use all my weapons to properly balance the activities I do across these portfolios. “

He denied that the geriatric care facility was in “crisis,” but claimed that he was “working very, very hard, especially to manage the effects of the outbreak of Omicron.”

From his point of view, the minister argued that despite the increase in the number of elderly caregivers, the number of elderly caregivers was better in 2022 than in 2020.

“Australia has more than 1.8 million COVIDs, of which just over 15,000 are elderly care, which is 0.58 percent of cases. That’s to me, despite all the difficulties, the sector. Tells me that is working very well. In fact, it’s one-twelfth of 2020, “Colbeck argued.

However, Gallagher disputed the data being presented to give a positive tilt and questioned 40 percent of geriatric care facilities that were blocked due to the outbreak of Omicron.

The hearing also investigated delays in approval of the rapid antigen test. This started the outbreak of Omicron, which resulted in unfulfilled requirements for RAT. Price Gouging Report The number of RATs that span many Australian states.

John Skerrit of the TGA said that the decision to postpone the approval of the rapid antigen test is “intentional” because RAT shows many false positives, and it is “dangerous” to introduce it in April 2021, when the number of cases is small. Said. ..

He said that RAT is reliable in places where the overall proportion of COVID-19 cases is high for “statistical reasons” and is suitable for places such as New York, but “inappropriate” for Australia at the time. Said that.

Marina Chan

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Marina Chan is a Melbourne-based Australian reporter with a focus on Australian news. Contact her at [email protected]