My heroes have always been our Anzacs, Firies, SES, and Police.
Like many of us, I have often taken for granted our nurses, doctors and other health professionals – but no more. The extraordinary and selfless efforts of these dedicated workers has been humbling to watch; as have the efforts of all our essential workers, including those in transport, food distribution and cleaning. They are also my heroes now, having contributed so much in these challenging times. We are all in this together.
In late March, Anne and I privately decided that if my salary was not cut by government then we would make a 30% donation to charities or individuals, and we have done so for this month. We had no intention of publicising this but I was challenged on the media. I cannot and will not speak for my colleagues except to say that some colleagues are doing something similar.
In the office we have quickly adapted to working remotely, using social media and video technology to stay in touch. As the government rolled out the various packages for COVID-19, we were inundated with queries and calls for help. We continue to work through these issues, and to provide support and advice as needed. With the help of our Foreign Affairs officials we have also assisted constituents to return from overseas, and from quarantine ports around Australia.
Many people have also reached out for reassurance, or to discuss this new world we find ourselves in. The team and I enjoy hearing from you, and will continue to respond and listen to the thoughts and ideas you raise with us.
Recently I have been thinking think about the nature of our society. On five occasions I have been deployed by the military to societies that were collapsing, had collapsed or were under extreme pressure. I have also seen Australian communities hit by natural disasters that bring out the best and worst of people. Societies are like people and react differently. Those that I feel for the most are our indomitable rural and urban business people, those that create our wealth in Australia, especially those who have suffered from drought, fires, flood and now the Virus.
During April we have been running a campaign called #AnzacAtHome. We are sharing the story of one of our ANZAC heroes each day on my social media. The response to the campaign has been terrific, with DVA also adopting the campaign. I am honoured to share my story with you at the end of today’s newsletter.
Coordinated information on the Government’s response to coronavirus is available at www.australia.gov.au. This website provides key updates across all categories, linking you to relevant department websites.
A 24/7 National Coronavirus Health Information Line is available on 1800 020 080. The line provides health and situation information on the outbreak.
My team is also available to provide information and assistance as required. Our contact details are at the end of the newsletter.
One of the things I have been struck by over the last several weeks is the resilience and innovation shown by so many in our community. Over the coming months I would like to share with you stories of businesses and individuals who are meeting challenges in this way.
Responding to COVID-19 restrictions
This week a shoutout goes to The Royal Hotel Queanbeyan, who had committed, before any government announcements, to try their hardest to retain on full pay all permanent and key casual staff. Proprietors Anthony and Sandy have introduced takeout and home delivery menus, usually changing weekly, and have increased delivery hours in response to public demand. Anthony reports, with great respect and affection for their customers, that the casual bar staff who’ve become drivers often receive gifts of appreciation. Two permanently segregated teams operate the contactless pay and delivery processes, and all cleaning protocols have been significantly expanded.
And if one of things you’ll most miss about Anzac Day is breakfast at one of Queanbeyan’s great pubs, I’m delighted to report that The Royal is delivering roasts during the day, accompanied by, of course, delicious Anzac Biscuits!
To conclude a shoutout from me, a shoutout from Anthony and Sandy: “We have been overwhelmed with support ……. but could not have done it without our NAB bank, the government, our many suppliers and of course our valued customers, who have rallied to keep us going.”
Well done to the Royal and other local businesses adapting to this serious crisis, I’d love to hear of any who you’d like to see mentioned.
Local Heroes in Batlow
A few weeks ago I was invited to meet a group of local farmers in Lower Bago, a community lying a bit to the west of Batlow, between Tumbarumba and Tumut. The six farmers in the group had all fought the fires as members of their local RFS. The Batlow area was smashed by the Black Summer fires.
One of the major industries in that area is plantations, and these local farmers believe that some plantations had been planted too close to roads and boundaries, which meant that when they burnt the locals were cut off. They also hold the view that the plantation owners do not put enough of their resources into firefighting, expecting the RFS to respond to industrial strength plantation fires which they are not equipped properly to do.
These locals came together and formed an organisation called the Valley Farmers Group. The Group have engaged the local community through meetings, social media and local radio interviews (Sounds of the Mountains). They have met with the local councillor and the local mayor, and are progressively meeting with the local plantation industry and the wood mill industry. They are working towards achieving a balance between big businesses and farmers living in these areas.
To act on behalf of your local community; to oppose what you see to be wrong; to stand up for local interests without denying the right of others; to realise that local farmers, plantations and industry share a common goal of preventing such intense fires in the future; and to advocate for those common interests is the mark of a local hero.
My local heroes this fortnight are The Valley Farmers Group, led by Andrew Scoullar. Get on their Facebook and support them.
#AnzacAtHome – My Story
Over the last four weeks I’ve been privileged to share the ANZAC stories of so many in our community through my #AnzacAtHome social media campaign.
Today I am proud to share my family’s #AnzacAtHome story. To read this story please click here: https://www.facebook.com/155139888613974/posts/693538911440733/?d=n
Until Next Time
We are in the best country in the world to weather the challenges we are currently facing. Our government is focussed on saving lives and saving livelihoods, and the results to date are promising. I feel for so many of us in these tough times, and pray that it will pass soon. In the meantime, stay isolated, and stay well
Articles of Interest:
I have included Links to three articles of interest in this Newsletter.
The first is by one of the most capable strategist in Australia, Mike Evans, who talks about the challenges that we will face from the goings-on in Asia and what it means for Australians. Long but very, very good.
The second is by Greg Mapson, a very experienced Navy officer, an expert in sea-mines. He bemoans the fact that Australia is running down its naval sea mine capability at a time when other countries in the region are vastly increasing theirs. This is about Australia’s single point of failure – our ports.
The third is written by me and argues that what we are seeing in the closing down of the economy to prevent COVID-19 is what we will see to a far greater extent if we adopt ideologically inspired policies such as “Zero Emissions by 2030 or by 2050” without relying on appropriate technology.