Confirmation regional Victoria will take a further step towards COVID-19 normal is the overdue recognition from the Andrews Labor Government that Mildura is not Melbourne, says Nationals Senate Leader and Senator for Victoria Bridget McKenzie.
“Country Victorians have been forced to make massive sacrifices to get to this point.
“While children will be back in the classroom in Term 4 and more businesses will be able to safely reopen, many will continue to pay the price for Daniel Andrews’ mismanagement of Melbourne’s hotel quarantine and abysmal contact tracing.
“Despite very low case numbers of right across regional Victoria, dining restrictions have forced cafes and restaurants to make tough decisions on whether it’s viable to open after months of little to no income.
“Families still have to make terrible decisions around who’s going to attend family weddings or funerals and who will miss out.
“The question remains: Can Daniel Andrews manage his ‘ring of steel’ around Melbourne better than his hotel quarantine and contact tracing?
“As recently as today my office is hearing reports of Melbourne people visiting family and friends in the Wodonga region. This is unacceptable.
“It is more critical than ever to keep our communities safe, the vast majority of regional Victoria has not had any community transmission, ever, yet lives and livelihoods have been crushed.
“Restrictions have cost the Victorian economy tens of billions of dollars, and 350,000 Victorians will lose their jobs because of the pandemic, based on PricewaterhouseCoopers modelling.
“If Melbourne hotspots were locked down efficiently and effectively early, regional economies would be already up and running, lives and families would be back on the road to COVID-19 normal.
“I have maintained the best way to support small businesses and local jobs is to open up COVID-19 free local economies.
“The clearest path to achieving that end is for National Cabinet to show leadership for the good of all Australians and endorse a national COVID-19 hotspot definition.
“By all working together we will get through this tragic pandemic so our economy and devastated communities can re-build.
NOTE: The Nationals asked country Victorians what you were hoping we can get back to as we eventually move towards COVID-normal – the image above is what you answered