House debates

Tuesday, 12 May 2020



7:46 pm

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Before I go on to speak about the COVID-19 crisis, I also want to acknowledge our nurses and thank them. It's fitting to follow on from the member for Cooper. One nurse that I particularly want to thank, and who is a great inspiration to me, is my mother. Mary began her training at the Wooroloo tuberculosis sanatorium in 1944, 76 years ago. She just turned 94 the other day, and she's still going strong. She's had a lifetime of caring for people, and she's still caring for us today. As I say, she's a great inspiration to me, and my sister Jane also followed her into the nursing profession, so our family is certainly making its contribution to a wonderful profession. I thank all of those nurses who care for us every day, but particularly during this current health crisis we're experiencing.

Today I particularly wanted to talk about the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on my electorate of O'Connor and thank my constituents for the amazing fortitude, understanding and forbearance that they have shown through this crisis. Since around the middle of March, when the Prime Minister came together with the state premiers and formed the national cabinet, we have seen an unprecedented amount of change in our society and the way we go about our daily lives. The small-business people who've had their businesses closed, effectively, by government decree have shown enormous understanding that this was required to keep our community safe. My heart bleeds for those people whose livelihoods have been severely interrupted and damaged, and also for those people who lost their jobs—who work for those small businesses and who are now out of work and confronting a situation that they would never have thought that they would have to deal with: going down to Centrelink and joining the queue to receive government support at this time. They are hardworking people who never thought they would experience that.

I also want to thank the real heroes—the people who I think have been the real heroes throughout this crisis—the unsung heroes like the supermarket workers who stack the shelves. They were there serving people who were coming in and, yes, some people perhaps overreacted and bought products they perhaps didn't need, but the supermarket workers were there every day to serve everybody who came through the door and to restock the shelves. The truckies who were delivering that product never stopped. The tradies who are out on the building sites every day haven't stopped working. There are the mechanics who are fixing up the vehicles—those trucks that are delivering those products. These are the unsung heroes of this crisis—the people who don't often get mentioned. There are the child carers who never stopped turning up to work and looking after the children of essential workers in our community. These are the people who really deserve our thanks and praise for the way that they have dealt with this crisis.

Across my community there have been some amazing stories of the community stepping up—none better than the Pemby Happy Helpers. This is a group that was brought together by Sarah-Jane Griffith in the town of Pemberton. It's a small town of probably 800 or 900 people. Fifty volunteers set up a network where every street in the town was serviced by people knocking on doors, just making sure that everybody was okay and that those people who needed support were getting it. That's the sort of community effort that I think is just amazing.

I also want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the senior members of the government for the JobKeeper program. Across my electorate of O'Connor, I see the JobKeeper program making a massive difference on a daily basis. A car dealer who employs 61 people, including six apprentices, contacted me the other day to say, 'I would have had to close the door and my business would have been finished without the JobKeeper program.' These are the sorts of people that the program is there to help. It's meant to keep those businesses open and keep those employees attached to those businesses, and I'm seeing that across my electorate on a daily basis. It's a fantastic program, and I thank the Prime Minister and the Treasurer for their work.