House debates

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Constituency Statements

Ballarat Electorate: COVID-19

10:27 am

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development) Share this | | Hansard source

I too want to echo the words of the member for Chifley, and indeed I think possibly the member for Hughes, when he's calling on the government to fix the issue for the dnata workers to have access to JobKeeper. This is urgent and it's incredibly important. These workers have not chosen the structure of who owns their company. In fact, many of them started when it was owned by Qantas and have worked there for a long period of time. It's absolutely incumbent on the government to fix this problem immediately. In my own community, as a result of COVID-19 our whole community, like so many others, has faced struggles unparalleled in any of our lifetimes. We've all had to change the way we work, the way we socialise, the way that we live our lives. Through it all the people in my community of Ballarat have filled me with nothing but pride. Throughout this crisis, I've made it a habit to set aside some time to make some calls to older people within my electorate just to check on how they're going. I've heard countless stories from elderly and vulnerable members of our community about the assistance that they've received and what it has meant to them. I've heard of the neighbours who have stopped by the front gate for a chat, who do the shopping, who offer a kind word or just let people know that they're there to help if they're needed. This kindness being offered by our community has made a real difference to the lives of so many.

While our community as a whole has done so much, there are, of course, those who have gone a step above. Today I want to thank them very much. First I want to thank our front-line healthcare staff, doctors, nurses, ambos, pharmacists, aged-care workers and all other practitioners. You've done an amazing job under incredible difficulty. You have quite literally put your own lives at risk for our community, and you continue to do so day in and day out. Of course, there are the hidden heroes in our hospitals as well: the cooks, the cleaners, the admin staff, everyone who keeps our hospitals and clinics turning over. Thank you too for your work.

Thank you again particularly to the aged-care workers. It's been extraordinarily difficult for older residents and their families, and your outstanding work has made it much easier for all of us.

I want to thank those workers who have kept our society functioning over the past few months: the truck drivers, supermarket workers, cleaners, bus drivers, police officers, delivery drivers, those working in our takeaway shops and every other essential worker. Without you we could not have got to where we have.

Finally and personally, I want to send a big thank you to our teachers. Like many here in this place and across the community, I have seen firsthand how much work you do as we supervise our children learning at home. The effort and absolute dedication you've shown in educating our children across our community, including my own, has been a delight to observe.

Of course, this battle isn't over. We still have long months to go before we can return to normal, but I have been touched and very encouraged by the wonderful response of our community to the challenges we have all faced.