Extraordinary challenges

Reading a Newspaper

Tuesday, 28 July 2020

It’s been a tough year, and our community has been weathering extraordinary challenges. Following the devastating bushfires, the health and economic crises of the coronavirus pandemic have now, unfortunately, taken hold. I thank everyone in our community for being resilient, and for continuing to make sacrifices to help stop the spread of the virus.

Victoria is in the grips of a second wave of COVID-19. For the past three weeks, the daily number of new cases have been in the hundreds, with a record high for Australia of 484 new cases being recorded in Victoria on 22 July. Sadly, there has consistently been scores of people in intensive care and the death toll has more than doubled in this time.

Unfortunately, this second wave can now be attributed to the Andrews Government’s hotel quarantine arrangements which saw the use of untrained security guards in favour of highly disciplined ADF personnel. Counsel assisting the Inquiry into Hotel Quarantine, Mr Neal QC, referring to comments made by Victoria’s Chief Health Officer, Professor Brett Sutton, observed that …”it may even be that every case of COVID-19 in Victoria in recent weeks could be sourced to the Hotel Quarantine Program”.

And with the second wave came a second lockdown. At the time of the new lockdown announcement, Yarra Ranges had only two active cases of coronavirus, and many local residents told me of their shock and concern that our municipality was included in Melbourne’s lockdown. Now, just a few weeks in, the active cases in the Yarra Ranges has multiplied eight-fold.

The pandemic and lockdown has had a disastrous impact on Yarra Valley’s small businesses and on the physical and mental well-being of local residents who are experiencing hardship. The Yarra Valley has been put at a disadvantage in comparison to other regional areas because of the arbitrary bureaucratic lines on a map that includes us in Metropolitan Melbourne. This will also likely result in our community being excluded from large pools of regional development funding for infrastructure, services, and to recover our visitor economy, which may constrain local economic recovery.

And while the current outlook is bleak, we will get through this. We will get back to work and back in business on the other side of COVID-19. Our community is resilient. As we continue weathering extraordinary challenges, I’ll be here to help and support local residents and businesses every step of the way. Take care.