House debates

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Constituency Statements

Garritty, Mr Patrick (Paddy), Gorton Electorate: COVID-19

4:12 pm

Photo of Brendan O'ConnorBrendan O'Connor (Gorton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Employment and Industry) Share this | Hansard source

It has become somewhat of a sombre daily ritual in Victoria to learn the latest figures on COVID-19 cases and COVID-related deaths. Each one of these deaths is a person and that person has a family and a story. I rise today to briefly tell you the story of one of those people. Paddy Garritty passed away on 16 August, last Sunday, from COVID-19. Paddy was a great champion of Australia and Victorian workers. There are many of us on this side of the House who have found ourselves on the other side of the bar from Paddy in the Trades Hall, a bar that bears his name, Paddy's Bar. For anyone who had the great fortune to be across the bar from Paddy it soon became evident that he had a passion for helping the oppressed and championing workers' rights. He had a lifelong love of the arts. He was tireless in his promotion of art and artistic endeavours, particularly in the western suburbs of Melbourne. The rejuvenation of the historically significant Trades Hall was driven largely by Paddy, and his stewardship has turned a building in disrepair into a vibrant hub for Melbourne's artistic community.

To his partner, Mary, and his family and friends, I offer my deep sympathy and condolences. Rest in peace, Paddy.

Turning to matters in my own electorate, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the world and my electorate of Gorton is no different. Currently, the two local government areas that sit within Gorton, Brimbank and Melton, have had the second- and fifth-largest number of COVID-19 cases. Parts of my electorate have faced the longest lock downs in the country. Businesses like restaurants, gyms and beauticians have had to shut their doors for months. Many schools have been closed due to the infection, aged-care homes have been affected and too many lives have been lost. I am proud to say that many workers from the Gorton electorate have been on the front line of the pandemic. According to the most recent census data, the top five industries of employment in Gorton are hospitals, road freight transport, supermarkets and grocery stores, take-away food services and childcare services. These are the essential workers we have all been relying upon during the pandemic. Unfortunately, it has also meant that the residents of Gorton have faced a disproportionately high rate of this disease.

While I can speculate on the reasons that my electorate has had such a high case load—and there have been multiple reasons—what I can say is that insecure work has had an impact on spreading this virus. If workers are scared that they will lose shifts or pay if they take time off, they risk spreading the disease. If workers have had to leave their children with friends or family members because they cannot take time off work as schools and childcare centres are closed, they risk spreading the disease. If workers have to work multiple jobs at multiple sites to make up a proper wage, they risk spreading the disease. Before the last election, Labor presented policies to mitigate insecure work. The government now needs to address these issues and others in the labour market, not just for the pandemic but also for our future.


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