House debates

Tuesday, 27 October 2020


COVID-19: Victoria

2:18 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

I start by thanking the Leader of the Opposition for moving this motion and I thank the Prime Minister for his words in support of those in Victoria. In the story of this year the significance of Victoria having just recorded two consecutive days with zero cases is hugely important. On 30 July, just 12 weeks ago, Victoria recorded 723 new cases of coronavirus. On that same day in Great Britain there were 846 new cases. Today with zero cases in Victoria, we saw yesterday in Great Britain 20,890 new cases of coronavirus recorded. It speaks to how contagious this virus is. It speaks to how easily this virus can spread if it is not checked. But it also speaks to the incredible achievement of bringing under control the outbreak of this virus which has occurred in Victoria over the last few months. Around the world there is hardly a precedent for it. The credit for that first and for most goes to the people of Victoria.

In regional Victoria over the last few months we have been living under stage three restrictions. For many people in this chamber, indeed for many people around the country beyond Victoria, that is an experience that was lived earlier in the year. But in Melbourne, over the last few months, people have been living under stage 4 restrictions, and from speaking with colleagues, with friends, with family, I can tell you that enduring the stage 4 restrictions in Melbourne saw as big a difference between that and stage 3 as there is between stage 3 and nothing.

In my lifetime, I have never witnessed up close such an experience of stress within our society—p eople making a decision every night about how they were going to spend that precious single hour outdoors the next day; p eople in Melbourne living under a curfew in a way which I would never have imagined. It has changed life in every way, including in this place . The members of parliament who you see on the screen behind me speak to that, and I want to acknowledge every one of the Victorians who is not here today.

There were m onths on end of not seeing loved ones in aged - care facilities —and, as COVID-19 started to work its way through aged - care facilities, an utter sense of terror on behalf of grandparents, on behalf of a father, on behalf of a mother. The families of 653 aged - care residents have had the heartbreaking experience of saying goodbye to their loved one in a way that they would never have wished to, in a way that was characterised by loneliness.

In the journey from the dark days of July to where we are now, there has been a story of leadership. Yes, t here have been mistakes, and t he Victorian government immediately established a judicial inquiry which is working through those issues as we speak. But the Victorian government has also been a source of crystal - clear decisions , at the heart of which has been the very best medical advice, which has guided us from where we were back in July to where we are right now.

The rhythm of life for Victorians and for Melburnians is defined by great cultural and sporting events , and the significance of what has occurred in the last 48 hours is that Melburnians can now look forward to the Comedy Festival in March, having a beer at the Espy over summer , visiting the Vic Market on a Saturday morning once again , going to the tennis — the Australian Open at Melbourne Park—and seeing the Boxing Day Test at the MCG with a renewed sense of confidence, of hope and of optimism.


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