BATT CALLS FOR CLEAR COVID-19 GUIDELINES

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Member for Bundaberg David Batt is calling on the Queensland Labor Government to stop sending mixed, inconsistent messages relating to COVID-19 restrictions and start providing clear, version-controlled guidelines.

Mr Batt is particularly frustrated about how confusing, erratic messaging from the Government is impacting local sporting facilities such as the Burnett Bowls Club.

Mr Batt said his concerns prompted him to ask the Premier a Question without Notice* in Parliament on Thursday (21 May 2020).

“After hearing about a complete backflip the Government made in relation to the number of patrons outdoor sporting facilities were allowed to have, I asked the Premier to explain why her government was providing such mixed messages on restrictions,” Mr Batt said.

“On 16 May 2020, under the frequently asked questions section of the Queensland Health website, it stated that an outdoor sporting facility with multiple sporting areas could have 10 people in each area – three courts can have up to 10 people on each court.

“But, just two days later, the FAQ page was quietly updated to say a maximum of 10 people across the whole facility was allowed – dramatically and entirely changing the situation.

“When I asked the Premier the question, she said she would get further advice on the situation and the Deputy Premier then reported back more information later that night – simply stating that the directions had not changed since they were published, the website was simply updated.

“Ten people on each playing surface is completely different to 10 people across the whole facility.

“When the advice was first published on the website, Bowls Queensland emailed all clubs and members across the state to advise them 10 persons in each area was allowed, only to then find out the government had secretly changed that advice, forcing Bowls Queensland to retract the information they had shared.

“These restrictions are the difference between venues being opened or closed in many cases and they need certainty and clarity.

“The roadmap that everyone is referring to, including myself, is being secretly updated all the time, but no one is actually drawing attention to what has changed and there is nothing on it to say which version the document is.

“Another example of the confusing guidelines is when the roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions was first released, it stated that stage 1 would begin on Friday 15 May 2020, however the document was then later updated to say 11.59pm on Friday 15 May 2020.

“That means that unless residents were analysing the document every few hours, they would not have known about the change – leaving a 24 hour period where people may have been unintentionally breaking the law while thinking they were following the Government’s advice.

“I understand this current pandemic situation is unprecedented and complex, however it is not difficult to notify the community of important changes like these and to write version numbers on the document to inform residents the document is subject to change.”

ENDS

*To see Mr Batt’s question without Notice and the response from the Premier and Deputy Premier – please see pages 25-26 and 68 of the record of proceedings: https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/documents/hansard/2020/2020_05_21_DAILY.pdf

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