Monday, 22 February 2021
Eden-Monaro Electorate: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, Canberra Raiders
I rise with an update on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout for frontline healthcare workers in the mighty Eden-Monaro. Last week I was contacted by doctors and nurses in the Bega valley, who were facing an 11-hour drive, two days away, from patients and loved ones in order to receive the Pfizer vaccine in the phase 1A rollout. Initially staff were directed to Liverpool hospital in south-west Sydney. The time away from the South East Regional Hospital and local GP clinics would have had flow-on impacts. I raised these issues in the media and also met with the Minister for Health, Greg Hunt, to express our concerns. And now we've seen a commonsense local solution emerge. I'm pleased to report that, during the early weeks of this vaccine rollout, Liverpool Hospital vaccinators will travel to Bega hospital to vaccinate health staff as part of the phase 1A rollout—a commonsense solution for Bega valley healthcare staff, who have carried the weight of bushfires and the pandemic for over 12 months. Thank you to the healthcare professionals who raised their concerns. I also thank them for the follow-up that will now be of benefit to our community. By working together, we have seen a local solution emerge. I'm told that further outreach clinics will reach the southern health district in the future. The rollout of the vaccine will help us resolve and bolster our dedication to see this through and to continue to build a strong economy.
We all know that sport plays a significant role in the life and spirit of country communities. In the early phases of the pandemic, the loss of local footy, netball, other sports and community activities hit us hard, not to mention the loss of our national codes for some time—all of which come with the ritual of watching our favourite teams run around the paddock or court, depending on which sport you watch. This Saturday, NRL fans at Queanbeyan will gather to cheer on their beloved 'Green Machine', with the Canberra Raiders returning to their spiritual home of Seiffert Oval to play the Sydney Roosters ahead of the first round of the NRL on 14 March. Ricky Stuart and the Raiders have a bond with the Queanbeyan community that draws people together. People of all backgrounds and beliefs gather to cheer from the sidelines, united by their passion for the Raiders. Ricky and his team take their community spirit and involvement beyond the paddocks into schools and grassroots clubs with community programs like ASPIRE, which I had the opportunity to witness firsthand at Michelago Public School. Thank you to Alan Tongue and his foundation for the work that they do with regard to programs on respect, mental health and domestic violence. These people are aware that the power they carry as role models should go out to our community. Good luck for Saturday, Raiders. Make sure you don your Viking helmets and your best Raiders jersey for the weekend, guys. 2020 was difficult, but I reckon we can go a step better this year. Go the Raiders!