State Labor leader Rebecca White says Premier Peter Gutwein could have waited a little longer to learn more about the new Omicron COVID-19 variant with cases surging interstate, rather than take "such a firm stance" on opening the Tasmania border on December 15.
"There's a lot of nervousness about the new Omicron variant of COVID and the impact it will have on our community, our healthcare, and our economy," Ms White said.
"We are concerned that Omicron is relatively unknown in terms of how it spreads and its impact on people's health, particularly when you look to NSW, and you see their number of cases escalating daily."
Ms White said Labor questioned the government's preparedness to reopen but trusted the public health advice and would provide bipartisan support "as necessary" on difficult and tough issues like managing the impact of COVID because of its importance to "our community."
"However, I think there is a higher level of anxiety and uncertainty in the community because of Omicron," she said.
"There is the possibility the premier could have delayed opening the borders to assess that situation (in NSW, Europe, and across the globe) to gain a bit more knowledge before making the final call.
"The vaccination rate is very high, one of our protections against the virus, but we know our health system is at a crisis point.
"That's one of the main reasons we've asked questions about our preparedness because we know that it's our (overstretched) health system that makes us incredibly vulnerable."
When it comes to how Labor has fared in 2021 Rebecca White says the party was more unified in recent months after its obvious past divisions and she's focused on the future.
After leading Labor to two poll defeats she sounded confident back at the helm despite the bad election result.
Ms White said Labor was going about its job "holding the government to account on housing, healthcare and cost of living."
"That's what the community expects of Labor," she said.
Ms White said she held great hope for next year and the party's ability to campaign to elect a federal Labor government.
She said Labor's rank and file members were united behind a common purpose "to represent our community, our values, and a fair go for people and in the first instance to support the election of an Albanese Labor Government."
Asked if State Labor could convince people it was united with her short-lived successor David O'Byrne still in parliament, Ms White said she had made it clear she didn't think that he should remain.
Mr O'Byrne resigned the Labor leadership in July after sexual harassment allegations were made public.
Ms White said she became leader again at the request of her colleagues to provide some stability.
She said Labor was in the process of adopting a new set of guidelines approved by the party's national executive to get rolled out across the country.
"The Labor Party nationally has been doing a huge amount of work to update our bullying and harassment policy informed through a significant amount of research and consultation, and that is happening right now. It will be best practice policy for the entire Labor Party across the country," she said.
"Our focus is looking forward, not looking back."
Ms White said Labor had showed it was more united and much more stable in recent months.
"I take great heart with the conversations I have with the rank and file of the Labor Party who want to focus on the future and doing what they can to support Tasmanians to have a better life supporting the Labor Party to win government," she said.
In the meantime, Ms White said her "efforts and energy" were on what the future for Tasmania holds, improving people's lives and representing the views of those people the government had forgotten.
"I've spent the majority of the back half of this year focusing on consolidating and providing stability for the party, she said.
"Making sure we are looking at the core issues that are important to our community and representing the Labor values proudly.
"Next year, we will move into another stage where we will not only be supporting our federal colleagues with their campaign but articulating our vision for Tasmania.
"Speaking up more loudly about what we would like to see in our state.
"For nearly two years, there has been a huge amount of focus on COVID and rightly so because that has been the primary concern from a community, health, and economic point of view.
"But it doesn't mean the government can continue to ignore the fundamental responsibilities that it has to support people to access the services that they need and to get a good job.
"I think once we start to progress further into this election cycle, people will turn their minds more closely to those things.
"As we get over the impacts of COVID, people will start to think about the key things that the government has responsibility for, not just managing COVID.
"That's where they will judge the government differently because there is no doubt they are letting a lot of people down in those areas at the moment."
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