Thursday, 10 December 2020
As we near the end of one of the most extraordinary years that many of us have ever experienced, I'd like to reflect on some of the highs and lows of 2020—which will surely be a year to remember. In doing so, I want to thank the people of Western Australia, particularly those in my seat of Brand, across the communities of Rockingham and Kwinana.
A lifetime ago, in January, the bushfires that began in late 2019 were continuing to burn with devastating consequences. We saw a tragic loss of life, the loss of livelihoods, the loss of homes and the devastating loss of wildlife. I would like to thank the West Australian Department of Fire & Emergency Services volunteer brigades who gave up their time to protect Western Australians from these fires. To the volunteers of the Rockingham Volunteer Fire & Rescue Service, the Secret Harbour Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, the Karnup Volunteer Fire & Emergency Services, the Baldivis Volunteer Fire & Emergency Services, the Kwinana South Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and the Mandogalup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade: thank you for everything that you have done this year and for what you will undoubtedly end up having to do over the long Perth summer ahead. To the residents of Brand: please make sure you stay safe, be alert and be prepared to act when you're required to throughout this bushfire season.
Towards the end of January, we began to hear the first stories of COVID-19 infections in other parts of the world. By March, Australia's international border was closed, and the country was in lockdown. Thanks to a swift and sensible reaction from Premier Mark McGowan and the Minister for Health, Roger Cook, Western Australia's interstate borders were also closed. That was a decision that undoubtedly saved the lives of many vulnerable people in our community.
COVID-19 has created many unforeseeable challenges throughout 2020. This awful disease took too many lives. Too many businesses failed, too many Australians lost their jobs and too many families were separated. But in the face of these tribulations we've witnessed human nature at its absolute best. We've seen people in our community continually show up to help others in the face of danger. I thank all the essential workers for everything you've done to keep us safe and keep our economy kicking over. My thanks go to our nurses, doctors, police, aged-care workers, carers, cleaners, truck drivers, FIFO workers, wharfies, teachers, supermarket and retail staff and so many more. I thank the City of Rockingham—the councillors there, the mayor, Barry Sammels; the City of Kwinana—the mayor, Carol Adams, and all her councillors; and all the staff of both of those city councils who worked tirelessly to create COVID-safe environments and plan for the recovery of our great home.
To our local Centrelink office: you often dealt with the most vulnerable people within our community, and the pressure on you was magnified this year like no other. To Sal and all the staff at Centrelink Rockingham: I thank you from the bottom of my heart. To the Kwinana Industries Council and the Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce: thank you for the support you gave local businesses trying to navigate what COVID meant for them. Thanks to local community groups: Coastal District Care, the Frank Konecny centre, SOUL Soup Patrol, Chorus, KEYS WA, Ngala, the Smith Family, St Vincent de Paul, Communicare, the Salvation Army, Anglicare WA and all the groups that were able to remain open during the pandemic to provide essential services. A particular shout-out to the Autumn Centre that ensured great takeaway meals were available to those who were unable to leave their homes.
Thank you also to the residents of Brand and everyone in the cities of Rockingham and Kwinana. It's a remarkable fact that WA has been able to remain free of community transmission since April. That is because of you and the sacrifices you made. You put in the effort from the start, and that allowed Western Australia to remain a very safe place to be. The year is ending on a positive note, with the promise of a continued recovery and a vaccine that will help return the world to some agree of normality. But for the 650 employees of the BP fuel refinery in Kwinana and their families it's ending with sadness and much uncertainty about the future. BP's decision to close the refinery in a few months came as a devastating blow to these skilled workers and their families that are the heart and soul of my community. Despite this, I sincerely hope these workers can still enjoy a happy Christmas as they plan for the future.
I'd also like to thank the staff of my electorate office who have had a tremendous year and a very challenging year: Andrew Burrell, Kate Gurbiel, Georgia Tree, Ryan Pavlinovich, Jacinta Pember, Jenny O’Reilly and Rex Tion. Thanks also to Marley and Lillian, who volunteered in my office this year—and also to Layla, our office dog.
I'd like to conclude by wishing all members of this House and the other place a very happy Christmas, and I hope they all get to have a restful summer break. I'd like to thank the staff in this building. You do amazing things for all of us. You help us whenever you can with some of the crazy demands that come through to you. After a tumultuous 2020, I think we all need a restful and peaceful break over the summer. I wish everyone a very happy Christmas and a fun summer.