Thursday, 29 October 2020
[by video link] I speak tonight from Werribee, in the heart of Wyndham in marvellous Melbourne and the great state of Victoria. I'm sure it's not an overstatement to say that that we who live south of the Murray River are a passionate and parochial bunch when it comes to our great state. But, for many Victorians like me, I don't think we've been prouder of where we live than over the past three days. As our Premier announced on Monday that Melburnians' efforts had worked, that we had beaten back the second wave and that we are close to victory, it brought a tear to the sternest of eyes. And this afternoon I want to recognise the work and efforts of my community to tackle the virus in our community.
Amid all the good news, I also want to pay tribute to the 67 lives lost in aged care in my community and pass on my sincerest condolences to the families involved and to every family affected by the virus. Some of those lives lost were people I've known all my life. I grew up with their children and have watched their children grow up. I think it is the most painful thing that we will remember from this pandemic.
In mid-August our community's active cases of COVID-19 peaked at 942. One of the reasons why I haven't sought to go to Canberra is that I was in a community of such high transmission. Just over two months later, however, the latest figures today tell us there are only 13 active cases in the city of Wyndham. This is cause for celebration. And, as of yesterday, elements of our usual way of life began to return.
The efforts to tackle this virus have been fought by so many Victorians, from our frontline health professionals to the essential workers who couldn't work from home. We have learnt much about what is essential and who is essential in our community and in our economy. Opening up is a win for everybody who washed their hands arriving and leaving the supermarket and who wore their mask on their daily walks. But, unfortunately, not everyone was part of team Victoria as we fought the virus.
Despite all the platitudes coming from members opposite, some of them weren't here with us and they weren't there for us. If the actions of this government over this time have shown us anything, it is that this government is from Sydney and for Sydney. They have picked fights over border closures with states who happen to have Labor premiers but are silent on border closures on Victoria with states who have Liberal premiers. And we had the infamous contribution from the Treasurer on Tuesday—a Treasurer from Victoria who failed to invest and give Victoria its fair share of infrastructure investment in the most recent budget. He cut back support for businesses and employees at the height of this pandemic, which had direct impact in communities like mine. He cut support for those Victorians who had lost their job. In that contribution on Tuesday, he cried crocodile tears, completely ignoring the fact that, when his government sent in the debt collectors on innocent Australians in the robodebt disaster, it was reported that thousands of them committed suicide after they received illegal debt notices.
Then we come to another so-called Victorian, the Minister for Education, the minister who cut support for childcare workers before any other industry and hung them out to dry; the minister who cried for how hard year 12 students have had it this year, while smacking them with higher university fees next year; the minister who promised $25 million to support schools during this pandemic, but we can't find a cent spent and we can't find any support for COVID catch-up for Victorian or any other Australian students. All announcement, no delivery—the defining trait of those ministers. And the failure of this government to be there for Victoria was not limited to Victorian ministers. This was shown most clearly by the absolute failure on aged care that we've seen from this government. Despite the denials of the Prime Minister, the fact is $1.7 billion was cut from aged care. What I saw in my local community and what we read today, about PPE not been given to aged-care facilities when they ask for it and a policy that appears to have been that PPE would not be provided until there was a positive case, has left us with a disaster.
With that on the record I want to encourage my community to continue to wash and sanitise, to continue to wear your masks, to continue to social distance as we reopen in Victoria.