Premier’s biggest COVID crisis failure

There would have been high-fives in households across Queensland yesterday at news Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk would progressively start allowing kids to return to their classrooms.

Prep and Years 1, 11 and 12 will return from Monday followed by the remaining grades a fortnight later if the number of new coronavirus cases continues to be at or near zero.

The Queensland Teachers' Union and its president Kevin Bates have played a contrarian's role throughout this saga.

Deliberately opposing the best health advice from the nation's Chief Medical Officer, the QTU and other state unions have unnecessarily confused parents and teachers alike about the threat posed by COVID-19 in classrooms.

It has been wholly unhelpful in the face of a national crisis.

So it is with welcome relief that Ms Palaszczuk has plotted a path for schools to reopen.

Parents would acknowledge home schooling has limited appeal.

And teachers - who deserve credit for adapting to a brave new world of online learning - will hopefully welcome back their students with socially distant open arms.

There are risks, of course, in opening schools.

And no doubt the health advice would speak not just to the issues of children spreading COVID-19 and parents mingling at drop-offs and picks-ups but the impact on the broader message about social distancing.

The return of school is also a crucial step for the Queensland economy because it means many parents can return to work.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to stop dragging her feet on releasing a road map out of restrictions. (AAP Image/Darren England)
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk needs to stop dragging her feet on releasing a road map out of restrictions. (AAP Image/Darren England)

On this front, however, the Palaszczuk Government unfortunately continues to drag its feet. Ms Palaszczuk yesterday said a recovery road map for when particular businesses would be allowed to reopen was still a week or two away.

She and her ministers were currently busying themselves with meeting various stakeholders before coming up with a plan, the Premier said.

However, after several weeks where data has shown coronavirus cases on a downwards trajectory, it is simply not good enough for the Government to say that it does not know when this will happen.

And it's even worse that it can't say when it might decide.

Perhaps the Labor Cabinet, grossly over-represented by former government hacks and union officials, is demonstrating its lack of "real world" understanding of what it takes to run a successful business by not having a plan.

It is not just a matter where the Premier can make a grand pronouncement on Twitter one day and business owners can throw open the doors the next.

Most of these owners will need a significant amount of advanced notice about when they can reopen.

Ms Palaszczuk ruminated yesterday about an "ambitious target" she has of cafes and restaurants reopening in early June as part of a staged process, but she is running out of time.

Maybe the Government has been a victim of its own success tackling the coronavirus pandemic and never imagined it would be confronted with the question of when to reopen operations as early as the start of May.

However, on the day it brought entire sectors to a screaming halt, the Government should have been planning on how and when it would reopen them.

It failed and that indiscretion will add to the cost of this crisis.



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