Leaked audio: Why Premier won’t reopen schools

 

 

PARENTS shouldn't expect schools to return to normal for weeks, after a leaked recording revealed Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Labor members she'll tread slowly because people could blame her if a child gets sick.

The Courier-Mail has obtained a recording of a Q&A-style telephone town hall meeting with Labor branch members in which the Premier says her Government can't "turn the switch on" and have everyone back, despite what Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

It followed a question accusing Mr Morrison of trying to force states to reopen schools.

"I know that schools has been front and centre of a lot of conversations both at a National Cabinet level, at a state cabinet level and also in our discussions to get this right," she told members on Wednesday night.

"And I just have to stress to everyone, we cannot rush this, we have to take our time because if there is an outbreak in a school, I'll tell you one thing, they're not going to be blaming Scott Morrison, they'll be blaming the State Government, they'll be blaming myself and (Education) Minister Grace Grace."

Ms Palaszczuk told members Mr Morrison had endorsed Queensland's position in National Cabinet meetings.

She also said principals had been asked to put in place detailed plans to help keep teachers safe because adults were susceptible to the virus.

"I've got concerns about the parents drop-off and pick-up of children," she said.

"How do we make sure social distancing is in place there? And of course our children so we need to make sure we've got all these plans in place and what I see is a gradual return to normality.

"We can't just turn the switch on and have everyone back without having a COVID safe environment.

"So look it's something I'm very passionate about."

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk

Setting a date for when all students can return to the classroom has turned into a political quagmire, with the Queensland Government refusing to reassess when kids go back before May 15.

This is despite both Mr Morrison and Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy having reassured Australians it was safe for both kids and teachers to return to school.

On April 24, the Prime Minister said: "The health advice hasn't changed and that is the children are not at risk at school.

"Now, I agree that in the schools themselves, we've got to put the appropriate safeguards in for the teachers, but that's to protect them from each other, and to ensure that at pick-up and drop-off that the, you know, the social distancing rules are followed there.

"That's where the risks are."

Federal Education Minister Dan Tehan has also set a June 1 deadline for all schools to reopen.

The mixed messaging has confused parents, with only the children of essential workers or vulnerable kids allowed to go to school in Queensland.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison

Parents or carers working from home were told to contact their schools if they had concerns.

Federal LNP minister Peter Dutton recently took aim at the State Labor Government over its decision, claiming: "In my home state of Queensland, the teachers' union has their hands firmly around the throat of the Government."

But Education Minister Grace Grace hit back, claiming Mr Dutton didn't have a clue what he was talking about.

Ms Grace said this week Queensland students would see a staged return to school which could mean senior and junior grades start sooner.

 

 

 

In her own words

 

QUESTION: "... curious, why Scott Morrison thinks it's appropriate to be trying to force states to reopen schools? Shouldn't this be a decision made by actual chief health officer and school principals, rather than trying to just bully states into doing something?"

 

PREMIER: "… Thanks and that's a really good question.

"And I know that schools has been front and centre of a lot of conversations both at a National Cabinet level, at a State Cabinet level and also in our discussions to get this right.

"I just have to stress to everyone, we cannot rush this, we have to take our time because if there is an outbreak in a school, I'll tell you one thing, they're not going to be blaming Scott Morrison, they'll be blaming the State Government, they'll be blaming myself and Minister Grace Grace.

"So what we've asked principals to do is put in place a very detailed COVID safe plan for teachers because we know teachers are susceptible as adults to this virus, so they have to put in place social distancing measures at the school.

"I've got concerns about the parents' drop-off and pick-up of children.

"How do we make sure social distancing is in place there?

"And of course our children, so we need to make sure we've got all these plans in place and what I see is a gradual return to normality.

"We can't just turn the switch on and have everyone back without having a COVID safe environment.

"So look it's something I'm very passionate about.

"In the National Cabinet meetings, Scott Morrison has endorsed Queensland's position, but unfortunately it's disappointing to see the Federal Government make this a battle between the Federal Government and the state when that is not the case at the national level."

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as Leaked audio: Why Premier won't reopen schools



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