Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (15:04): I do not plan to speak for long, because hopefully I will be chairing this inquiry. I think it is a very important inquiry and I thank Ms Crozier for bringing this inquiry referral to the Legal and Social Issues Committee.
It will be a quick inquiry, and the Legal and Social Issues Committee knows how to do that. We have done it with I Cook Foods. We have been able to turn it around. This will be a quick inquiry and an important inquiry.
We have heard a lot in the media about the deficiencies in Victoria’s contact tracing, and I think certainly when we have been looking at the hotel quarantine it is almost like we should have been looking at how we did our contact tracing. I must say I have been reassured in recent times that our contact tracing has improved significantly. I would say we are probably one of the few states where contact tracing has been stress tested. We have been contact tracing at a very different level to any other jurisdiction in Australia and probably in the world, because in most jurisdictions contact tracing is out the window. You cannot contact trace in the UK, you cannot contact trace in most countries in Europe—it is beyond that now. But what this inquiry will bring is that confidence and that assurance that we are on top of our game, that we do have it in hand and that we can feel confident that Victoria can open up and stay open, because contact tracing will be the absolute key to that.
It actually seems like a decade ago, or it certainly seems like more than a year ago, that we started talking about the COVIDSafe app. I for one actually downloaded that app, and I for one actually keep it open. Of course that app did not prove to be what we had hoped it would be for that contact tracing. So that did not work. That does not mean that other apps might not work going forward. COVID is going to be with us for quite some time, and we want to be as open as possible and as safe as possible, but we want our businesses to feel comfortable opening up.
We want our community to feel comfortable going out, and certainly when I speak to my friends and colleagues in other countries, in the US and in Europe, many of them are frightened to go out. So even though they are open, people are not actually going out, and we want people to be shopping, we want people to be supporting our local businesses. And I think if this inquiry does one thing by ensuring that we have the best contact tracing in Australia—probably in the world, but certainly in Australia—this inquiry can provide the confidence to our community and gain the trust of our community that we can do this, that we can do this safely, and that we are not going to find a third wave. As Minister Pulford said, it sends a shiver down your spine to even think that we might enter into a third wave.
I am also pleased to hear that there are other inquiries, and I am pleased to hear that Alan Finkel is also looking at this. I have no doubt that we will be speaking to those inquiries and sharing that information and learning. Having a state-specific inquiry to do this will bring the expertise of this state, bring the knowledge of this state into this inquiry, and I think it will complement the other inquiries that are occurring. I note that we are continuing to improve. I hope that this inquiry looks forward and does provide the confidence and assurance that our community needs right now that we can live with COVID.