There’s light at the end of the tunnel as regional Victoria comes out of the second wave.
We’ve all had to make choices we never thought we’d be asked to make.
As a member for a regional electorate that’s been living the daily pain of border closures, I know all too well the sacrifices we’ve made to get our communities on track to COVID normal.
Regional Victorians don’t just live where we do for the sake of it being a close commute to the office.
It’s the great outdoors that’s right on our doorstep, the local businesses and the overwhelming sense of being united by the pride we have in our community – but these are the exact things we’ve been asked to give up in the past few months.
We’ve missed weddings and saying a final farewell to those who are most important to us.
Businesses have closed and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their job.
The local football and netball league, bowls club and other community sports that fall under ‘indoor’ or ‘contact’ have been cancelled entirely.
Victoria’s still the only state to have endured a second wave.
Most gutting is that it could have been avoided – Daniel Andrews’ own inquiry found that 99 per cent of cases were a result of Victoria’s botched hotel quarantine program.
Combined with poor contact tracing, outbreaks spread like wildfire and forced us into the strictest shutdowns in the nation.
As restrictions ease, I encourage you all to get back into your communities and to engage with your local businesses and service providers – there’s no question they need your support.
For those who still feel uneasy about travelling, take a holiday in your own town – support the hotels and local experiences that are available in your own backyard.
There’s still problems with the ‘roadmap’ that must urgently be fixed.
Top of this list is problems with movement of the food supply chain – particularly interstate – which must be resolved if we’re going to support our farmers to meet growing demand as we head into the busy Christmas period.
It’s important we protect our livelihoods and make sure we don’t slip into a third wave which will harm our own physical, mental and financial well-being.
The Andrews Labor Government let us down with hotel quarantine, poor contact tracing and its ‘ring of marshmallow’ around Melbourne that failed to protect us from hotspots in the city.
If our businesses and communities are to have confidence in recovery, the Premier must finally enforce his ring of steel, check people travelling on V/Line and keep the virus in Melbourne – we have all sacrificed too much to lose it due to the Andrews Labor Government’s incompetence.
There is still so much more to be done, but we thank regional Victorians for the contribution you have made to get us to this point.