Wednesday, 9 December 2020
COVID-19: O'Connor Electorate
It would be an understatement for me to say that 2020 has been the most difficult of years. But the people of O'Connor have shown remarkable courage, fortitude and resilience in the face of this once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. I stand here today to acknowledge the outstanding contributions made by the everyday heroes in my electorate—the people who kept up their tremendous work, supporting our regional communities, our cities and, in fact, our entire nation, despite the challenges of COVID-19. They're people like O'Connor's farmers, who have continued to produce the world's best food and fibre for our nation. Their premium fruit, meat, seafood, truffles and wine continue to be sought overseas. Our miners continue to extract O'Connor's gold, lithium, aluminium, iron ore and coal to support and in fact grow the Western Australian economy. Our transporters and truckies kept transporting ore and produce, and our ports kept exporting.
But it was not all plain sailing. Schooling was interrupted, and, when it was resumed, it was still far from normal. Despite the valiant efforts of our O'Connor educators, our valedictorians experienced possibly the toughest year 12 on record. I give a big shout out to those amazing kids who are now pursuing higher education or training opportunities or seeking first-time employment. Your resilience under such challenging circumstances will serve you well into the future.
Kudos must also go to the business owners of O'Connor, who have continued to deliver goods and services to their communities. Thank you to our tourism operators, who battled through the closures and are stepping up now to support the boom in visitation to some of our most iconic tourism destinations. Now that the borders are finally open, O'Connor tourism will continue to grow.
To those working in health and aged care: these have been seriously challenging times, and you have courageously worked through this time of greatest need. As always, our emergency services step up in a crisis, and COVID-19 has been no different. My heartfelt thanks to you all, and to your families who support your calling.
Finally, I want to acknowledge the generosity of our community volunteers, especially at Christmas time, who give up their time to make someone else's Christmas special. Every year, Pastor Steve Marshall hosts a free Christmas lunch in Albany which is attended by up to 400 people, to which local businesses donate produce and gifts, and I'm honoured to support this annual event. This year, Kalgoorlie disability service provider EPIC is hosting a free Christmas lunch at Centennial Park. The EPIC team—Kat, Kaleena, Sarsha and their volunteers—aim to make this COVID Christmas beyond epic.
More than anything, Christmas is a time for togetherness, and this year more than ever. I hope you will be with your loved ones—if not physically, then through the technology we have come to rely on. This has been a year where we've learned the importance of staying connected, despite being distanced. So, to everyone in O'Connor who has stepped up this year and made 2020 the best possible year it could be, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy and, most importantly, healthy new year.