Long queues for COVID testing, no stocks of promised Rapid Antigen Testing kits, unavailable vaccination appointments, confusion with restrictions – no wonder South Australians have lost faith in their government’s leadership, according to Member for Frome Geoff Brock MP.
Mr Brock was also concerned that the “walk-in” Vaccination Clinic in Port Pirie was closed from Christmas until after the New Year.
“I contacted the local hospital and was told the local Health Board had decided, two months ago, to close over the holiday period, which is unacceptable in our current crisis,” he said.
“So, I had to put pressure on our local Health Board to reopen – and when they did, more than 300 vaccinations were given on their first day back,” Mr Brock said.
Whilst Mr Brock appreciates the great work that the front-line staff do, it was important that the Clinic be open for the public to be able to get their vaccination, especially as it had been reported there were cases in Port Pirie and other outlying areas.
“I am also extremely worried about the stress on the health workers and the health care system, which was already operating at near full capacity.
“There appeared to be no plan to support the Ambulance Service or Hospitals, especially over the holiday period.”
Mr Brock said the anger he was hearing from small businesses also needed to be addressed.
“Compensation for small businesses, who responded to the opening up message in good faith, only to face restrictions and closures, should be rolled out without any further delay.
“It’s also important that Rapid Antigen Tests should be made available within an easily understood framework, and at low or no cost, particularly for those on fixed low incomes.
“I call on Premier Marshall to follow the other States where the cost of these kits is borne by the Commonwealth and the States, not the general public,” Mr Brock said.
Mr Brock has called for all members of the State parliament to be briefed, as a matter of urgency, by Government and SA Health, about the State’s fast moving COVID situation.
“I called for this in the last week of Parliament, before its premature closure – my office is flooded with enquiries from anxious and upset people who cannot get accurate information or cannot understand the latest bulletins.”
Mr Brock said, as a Member of Parliament, he hadn’t been briefed on the current situation, or the Government’s plans for this new phase of the management of the pandemic and was calling on Premier Steven Marshall to convene an urgent meeting for all MPs with Department officials to lay out a clear plan of response.
“Seeing that Parliament is not sitting again until May 2022, we need to get together now so that elected members can ask questions and report back to their constituents.
“I want an explanation for some of the decisions being made, that seem to have undone the good work done over the past two years,” Mr Brock said.
“While front line workers are doing their absolute best, COVID response decisions are creating anger and confusion in the community.”
Mr Brock said it was now clear the State had been opened up too soon, and the decision to do this at the start of the Christmas season was particularly damaging for the already reeling hospitality and tourism sector.
“The emergence of Omicron in November was not factored in, and it should have been – the policy was to simply hope for the best, rather than prepare for the worst.
“We have had a ‘near enough is good enough’ approach to the vaccination roll out and it’s left too many people exposed and vulnerable, and, at exactly the time they need to be getting vaccines, the system appears to have stalled and be near collapse.”
Every case of COVID identified and isolated will decrease pressure and prevent others from infection, Mr Brock said.
“Communication is the key – let’s keep communication lines open and transparent and use the networks MPs have to roll out and reinforce the key messages to keep the community safe.”
Geoff can be contacted on 0417 502 539 for further information.