It's not to late for the PM to help regional communities

It's not to late for the PM to help regional communities Main Image

01 February 2021

The importance of leadership cannot be underestimated in times of crisis – but also in times of recovery.

We all know it’s been a hard 2020 for so many – some regions are doing it tougher than others though and this should be acknowledged.

Over the past year, Eden-Monaro has experienced prolonged drought, bushfires, floods, COVID-19 and two state border closures. Our people and our businesses are crying out for help that goes beyond what has already been announced and addresses local issues.

Our leaders need to acknowledge that Eden-Monaro’s small businesses have lost their peak tourism traffic for two summers in a row now.

This is having a devastating impact on our communities and will for some time to come.

Last year we were choking in flames and smoke and this year it was a sudden and chaotic border closure. We must ask ourselves, could this have been avoided?

This is where leadership matters…

The Prime Minister instituted the National Cabinet but has failed to bring together our States and Territories – he has not led the way on a national definition of “hot spot” and an agreed stance on face masks.

The failure to take responsibility and control of quarantine requirements for returning travellers, despite it being a federal government responsibility as expressly determined in the Constitution, is nothing short of ridiculous.

If these measures had been put in place, then perhaps the latest border closure during the height of our summer season could have been avoided. Small businesses across the Bega Valley, Eurobodalla, Snowy Monaro and Snowy Valleys are paying the price.

In some of these areas, our tourism, hospitality and retail businesses generate 70-80 percent of their yearly earnings during this 6-week period.

It is now incumbent upon this government to ensure our regional communities do not continue to suffer from an absence of national leadership.

The Federal Government could fund travel vouchers to entice visitation back to these communities, provide tax breaks and concessions to the businesses hardest hitby the Victorian border closure, and provide additionalmental health support for business owners and employees who are reeling from another lost summer.

These are the ideas I hear from people as I travel this vast and beautiful place.

There are so many Eden-Monaro communities doing it tough and now we’re asking for additional support. Leadership matters – even if it shows up late!

This opinion piece was first published in The Canberra Times on Sunday, 31 January 2021.

Media contact: Ian Campbell, phone 0417 482 171