Mercury (Hobart)

HEALTH SCARE A KICK IN THE GUTS

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FORTY-SIX days straight … no wonder Premier Peter Gutwein “hit the wall”. Not only is he running the state, but doing so while trying to protect Tasmanians from a global pandemic that is wreaking havoc on the other side of the moat.

Oh, and he is also in charge of the purse strings – last month handing down the State Budget as Treasurer.

Throw in the portfolios of Climate Change and Tourism and the Member for Bass has quite the workload. Something had to give.

Not surprising­ly, the long, relentless hours caught up with Mr Gutwein, who was hospitalis­ed last week for tests after he felt unwell.

“I’d worked 46 days straight, which culminated in the finalisati­on and delivery of the budget,’’ he said on Sunday. “My body is not a machine, I hit the wall and I was quite unwell.

“I just had to stop.”

While the health scare highlights Mr Gutwein’s formidable work ethic, it again exposes the lack of depth and talent in Cabinet.

Climate Change has been passed on to Environmen­t Minister Roger Jaensch, who struggled to rein in the state’s waiting list crisis as Housing Minister last term.

Tourism has gone to Hospitalit­y and Events Minister Sarah Courtney – far more palatable portfolios than the dreaded Health ministry she grappled with before the post-election reshuffle.

It is fortunate Mr Gutwein had his trusty, experience­d deputy Jeremy Rockliff to steer the ship during his unschedule­d downtime. The same deputy he has turned to in an effort to bring the Health portfolio under some semblance of control.

The Covid-related challenges facing Tasmania illustrate more than ever the need for talented, visionary elected members to chart a path forward.

We have said before the talent pool in state parliament is too small and narrow. Tasmania needs more elected members to represent the state. The workload on Cabinet continues to grow but the responsibi­lity is being foisted on too few.

This is not restricted to the government.

Labor is already losing one of its rising stars in Bastian Seidel, who has quit the party in disgust at its incessant infighting. And who would want to join a party that can’t keep its shiny new leader for more than five minutes? Pity the Labor Party recruiter …

So, rest up Guts, it’s encouragin­g you have shed some of your peripheral portfolios … but we need you to keep your shoulder to the wheel.

And don’t drop the ball in the fight with the AFL about a getting a certain Tassie side playing in the Big League sooner rather than later.

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