Wednesday, 13 May 2020
COVID-19: Central Coast
Today I want to rise to put on record my appreciation and thanks for the way that our Central Coast community has really banded together during the coronavirus pandemic. Right across the Central Coast local residents have really followed the advice from the national cabinet that has been required to help save lives and livelihoods, and I really want to say a big thank you. As our community has committed to do its bit to flatten the curve and to stop the spread of the virus, I've heard many stories of people working together and really helping those in need, like the beautiful story of togetherness in isolation reported by the ABC Central Coast about Saint Huberts Island, a suburb in my electorate of Robertson. During the weeks of social isolation, this strongly knit community created driveway music performances to entertain each other. They encouraged socially distanced exercise like kayaking, and they printed flyers to connect vulnerable residents to helpful services to help them get through the challenges of isolation. Lynn Martin, a resident for over 10 years stated that isolation had brought out the best in her neighbourhood, encouraging more community connections even before the restrictions were put in place. I heard Joy Lynn from Umina Beach, a woman in her 70s who, due to a compromised immune system, was unable to leave her home. Joy's neighbours, Heidi and Helen, decided to take turns checking in on her, dropping off groceries and offering a helping hand to make Joy's life easier while she was self-isolating. There are hundreds of stories like these and even more when you include the simple examples of the many other residents who became more creative in the way that they connected to loved ones in the place of a weekly family dinner, a catch up with friends or a birthday celebration.
While the country was responding to—and is still navigating—the economic challenges that this virus has presented, so too were many of our Central Coast businesses. Distillery Botanica and Onyx Coffee Spirits are two distilling businesses in my electorate who decided to use their existing skills and resources to fill the overwhelming demand for hand sanitiser in our region by making their own. The community response to Distillery Botanica's new product was pretty remarkable. There were pictures of people lining up at the Erina distillery as soon as the Mr Black Hand Sanitiser hit their shelves. Other local businesses like Fresko Fruit in Kincumber, Elanora Hotel in East Gosford, BamVino in Erina and many others started delivering to their local areas in place of sitting dining.
Several businesses across the Central Coast also took advantage of the historic $130 billion JobKeeper payment. For instance, the director of the Australian Reptile Park, Tim Faulkner, said that the JobKeeper payment was a game changer for the park. Being a business that simply cannot shut down, the JobKeeper payment allows their staff to still look after the animals and run the facility with the assurance that the business can endure this period until the restrictions are eased.
Through our economic support packages the coalition government is supporting Australians in these challenging times and getting the country working again. That's why our three-step road map to building a COVID-safe Australia is crucial. It provides clear advice for businesses to plan ahead as restrictions ease. We're all aware of the need to get Australians back to work and businesses back up and running, and I know some of the businesses on the Central Coast will enthusiastically be able to open their doors to the public this Friday in line with the social distancing requirements in New South Wales.
Thankfully, 115 people on the Central Coast have recovered from the coronavirus. That is my advice, and I'm advised that there are only two active cases remaining. Over 13,200 people have been tested between our three testing clinics at Gosford, Wyong and Erina. The Erina clinic was the largest of the additional clinics that the federal government established in New South Wales to supplement the work of GPs and state respiratory clinics. It was set up by Central Coast Primary Care and it has enabled an additional 110 people to be tested per day, almost doubling our testing rate on the Central Coast. I'm pleased to say that, since opening, the clinic has been booked out each day and has not yet reported a positive case of coronavirus.
To everyone who has been on the front line—from the doctors and nurses who have worked tirelessly to ensure our hospitals are equipped for this pandemic to our incredible teachers, emergency services, cleaners and retail staff—I want to say a big thank you for your service to our community during these tough times. Our residents have an incredible heart when it comes to assisting our local neighbours and supporting our local business and, while we need to remember that there are still steps we must take on the road out of this pandemic, I know the Central Coast community will continue to do their bit to stop the spread of the coronavirus. (Time expired)