House debates

Thursday, 27 February 2020


Barton Electorate: Coronavirus

4:30 pm

Photo of Linda BurneyLinda Burney (Barton, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Families and Social Services) Share this | | Hansard source

I want to pay tribute to and express my support for the local businesses in Hurstville in the electorate of Barton. I am proud that the electorate of Barton is one of the most culturally diverse electorates in Australia. It is home to one of the largest Chinese communities in Australia. Barton reflects the face of modern Australia. As we all know, this is an anxious and difficult time for our Chinese community. Many of our local businesses have taken a pretty hard hit, and many of our local residents have been subjected to unacceptable racist sentiments and comments. As many have said before, the coronavirus does not discriminate, and neither should we. We are all in this together. I want to take this opportunity to put my remarks on the record in this parliament that we stand with you. We are here for you. And we are going to get through this together.

The unfolding situation around the world has seen fear and misinformation spread in our community, especially through social media. I strongly encourage everyone to keep themselves informed of the facts through the Commonwealth Department of Health and the New South Wales Health websites. These materials are also available in Chinese. As the Prime Minister said moments ago, you can still go to the footy match, you can still go to the rock concert and you can still go to your favourite Chinese restaurant.

In recent weeks, I and the Labor member for Kogarah, Chris Minns, the Labor mayor for Georges River, Kevin Greene, and the New South Wales Leader of the Opposition, Jodie McKay, and Jason Yat-Sen Li have been visiting and dining in some of our local businesses in Hurstville, including Sunny Harbour Seafood, Yu Star BBQ, Diamond Cafe and Bakery, Taste of Shanghai, 18 Grams cafe and Kalotfuk Supermarket. We hope to get around to many more in the coming weeks with other colleagues. We've talked about the difficulties that people are facing, the impact that recent months have had on their businesses, and it has been extreme. We've also gone to show our support and stand with the Chinese community in this extremely difficult time. And this isn't just having an impact on businesses. It also means that workers are having shifts cut and unemployment is growing. It means that children in schoolyards are experiencing very, very confronting situations. The wider community has also certainly felt it.

We continue to encourage people to come out to visit and support the many amazing and wonderful local businesses in the Hurstville district. We take these restaurants and grocers and other local businesses for granted, and we shouldn't—and we won't in the future. They have become an important staple in modern Australian cuisine. They have become an institution in suburbs and cities all over Australia. In the electorate of Barton, they go to the very character of suburbs like Hurstville. But right now they really need our support and our patronage to keep them going into the future. So, again, I want to say to the businesses and restaurants and entrepreneurs in the Hurstville area, particularly those in the Chinese community: we stand with you. And 'Hurstville eats' will continue; I will be visiting Hurstville in the very near future with other members of the Labor Party.

I know there is an enormous amount of fear. I really, once again, encourage people very strongly to look at the official websites of the Commonwealth Department of Health and New South Wales Health.

They have the most up-to-date information on the virus. They have accurate information. Much of the fear that's been spread around is to the detriment of the very, very brave people who are continuing to go into their restaurants to try and make ends meet. We have been told by a number of restaurant owners that their businesses have fallen by up to 75 per cent. It's not an exaggeration. Hurstville is normally a bustling suburb. It has a very big train station and it has a Westfield there. I was there last Saturday, I think, and it certainly isn't the bustling place that it used to be. Once again, I really encourage people to think about this virus. It does not discriminate and neither should we. We are all in this together. (Time expired)