House debates

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Statements by Members


1:47 pm

Photo of Anne WebsterAnne Webster (Mallee, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[by video link] COVID has challenged us as a nation in ways we have not experienced in our lifetimes. The losses have been profound—lost jobs, businesses, careers and opportunities. Children have missed out on social and educational growth, locked away from families and friends. We have missed first hellos and last goodbyes. We have had tastes of freedom, only to have them ripped away from us time and time again. We are mentally and emotionally fatigued by trying to do the right thing or left feeling guilty if we don't, even in regions with zero cases of COVID month after month.

There are over 15,000 small businesses in Mallee, and many have failed due to ongoing lockdowns. Over half the shops in Mildura are now for lease, as business owners have given up. Educational outcomes for our young people are also suffering. There are 131 schools in Mallee, with over 24,000 students. Only time will tell how deeply the past 18 months of scattered learning has affected them. Patrick McGorry has spoken of the deepening mental health crisis, the shadow pandemic. I see it as being like an iceberg: the real threat is below the surface. I think we currently only see a glimpse of the potential risks ahead of us. To reduce the risks of the shadow pandemic, we need a reconsideration of the restrictions— (Time expired)