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Less severe Omicron variant taking over and Victorians vaccinated means it's time for new way forward from governments right

Liberals and Nationals call for action on Rapid Antigen Tests with a plan to move forward against the new variant.

By news@gippsland - 10th January 2022 - Back to News

The start of 2022 marks the beginning of a third calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the less severe Omicron variant taking over from previous variants, Victorians are vaccinated, and it is time for governments to find a new way forward.

The availability and approval of the Rapid Antigen Test is a big step forward, take extra care to understand the result and what steps you need to take to protect your family and yourself

The availability and approval of the Rapid Antigen Test is a big step forward, take extra care to understand the result and what steps you need to take to protect your family and yourself

Keeping communities safe

Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh said, "People in the community often ask me what I would do differently if I was Deputy Premier. The fact is that there have been crucial things overlooked by the State Labor Government. While in isolation they may seem small, these overlooked strategies would have had a huge impact on our healthcare system and taken some stress and pressure off our front-line workers."

"As the Omicron variant sweeps across Victoria, we are all feeling the impacts of the virus and the State Labor Government's response - whether that be someone we know becoming unwell, limited stock on the shelf, newly imposed buying limits, or our local shop or cafe being closed because of staff being exposed or isolating."

"This is despite Victorians rising to the task and achieving world leading vaccination rates amidst the world's longest and most heart-breaking lockdowns. We're now taking up third doses with similar enthusiasm to keep ourselves and our communities as safe as possible." Mr Walsh said.

Government should hold the end of their bargain

Mr Walsh said, "We were promised that we would get our lives back if we got vaccinated. We've gotten vaccinated, and governments should be holding up their end of the bargain. They have had two years to prepare the system for the inevitable surge in cases. They have had plenty of time to put us in the best position to trust our safe and effective vaccines."

"All governments have an obligation to prepare communities for the future. That's never more important than for a crisis such as this COVID-19 pandemic. As a community we need a strong, reliable healthcare system to support us while we transition to living our lives with covid. Our healthcare workers have done a remarkable job over the last two years, and I am confident they will continue to do their best."

"That's why the State Labor Government failing to deliver on a promise made in 2020 to bring 4,000 new ICU beds into the system is so unacceptable. We need those beds and that surge capacity, which Labor knows, but fails to address or explain. The Liberals and Nationals would have ensured we kept an essential promise like that to support our healthcare workers and the system." Mr Walsh continued.

Call for action

Mr Walsh also said, "It's why the Liberals and Nationals were calling for preparatory action on rapid antigen tests (RATs) in August 2021 and again when they were fully approved by authorities in November. It's why it's so disappointing that Labor responded by labelling our calls a "desperate political stunt" in Parliament."

It's now clear that the Liberals and Nationals were right to call for action on RATs, whereas The State Labor Government spun their wheels. In September, Minister Foley promised that the Labor Government would stockpile rapid tests, but they have since been silent on that stockpile.

I think it is only fair to assume that the stockpile doesn't exist - they only ordered RATs on Christmas Eve after three months of sitting on their hands. Those tests would do so much for our state as Omicron embeds itself in the Victorian community.

Plan a move forward

The Liberals and Nationals would have ensured that people were not compelled to line up for hours for a PCR test, only to be turned away, or compelled to park their cars in testing lines overnight. We have needed more testing centres and longer opening hours. We would have put testing and vaccination pop-up sites across holiday hotspots, and we would have opened key testing sites for 24 hours to take pressure off our stretched testing system.

The State Labor Government spends millions of your dollars on spin and on advertising themselves. The Liberals and Nationals would redirect much of that spending to support the health system, to pay for additional healthcare workers, and to raise awareness for people due for their third dose of vaccination.

These may seem like small differences, but they add up to a drastic change to the way we approach the pandemic - with last minute reactionary decisions under the State Labor Government, or with a plan to move forward under the Liberals and Nationals. That's what I would do differently as Deputy Premier with the Liberals and Nationals.

Pictures from Victorian Department of Health Facebook page.


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