“We’re all in this together” - it’s become the catch cry and familiar tune to the global pandemic.
People from Eden-Monaro and beyond have heard the call, acting for the collective good, something that is now paying dividends as we start to move towards ‘COVID-Normal’.
The power that comes with that sense of working together on what is right, on what is fair, without the colour of politics - has been clear to see.
Sadly, we are seeing the tribalism of politics fracture our ‘togetherness’ not just in our discussions and planning around COVID-19, but also in our response to the devastating drought and bushfires that preceded the pandemic.
It appears politics is back.
What I heard during the recent Eden-Monaro by-election was that people want and expect more from their leaders. People rightly want their leaders to work for them, not against each other. People had hoped that the challenges of 2020, and the self-reflection that has come with that, might result in a reset of politics.
Late last month the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack announced $100 million to assist 10 regions. In his own words, the Deputy Prime Minister said that the eligible regions had been chosen because “they are regions whose economies have experienced the brunt of natural events such as bushfires, or COVID-19, and drought.”
I applaud the announcement, and I welcome the inclusion of the Snowy Mountains – but Batlow, Cobargo, Kiah, Nerrigundah, Braidwood and surrounding communities are all asking – what about the rest of Eden-Monaro?
On the raw data alone based on bushfire losses – the communities of Eden-Monaro are rightly asking where do we rate?
With over 750 homes lost, over 2,000 sheds and outbuildings destroyed, thousands of kilometres of fencing and livestock torched, and not forgetting the fruit tree and forestry losses, the downturn in tourism, retail and hospitality income, the loss of lives and livelihoods - why aren’t we included in this funding?
Eden-Monaro communities are doing their best to show us, their leaders, the way. Through our Chambers of Commerce, community and service clubs, arts and cultural groups and sporting organisations, local leaders are coming up with ideas to move us forward towards renewal.
These ideas are fantastic and deserve attention – the type of attention that this grant funding affords. Sadly, the attention of the Morrison Government is elsewhere.
The decision to exclude most of these communities from this funding has left me gutted and angry.
Is this payback for a Labor win in Eden-Monaro? Hardly the way people want and need politics carried out post-2020.
I ask the Deputy Prime Minister – please don’t let politics get in the way of truly assisting the regions that are hurting the most.
Come and talk to our communities, see for yourself how hard they are doing it. If it is because of the colours I wear – I’ll stay away from the announcements and the ribbon cutting – just do the right thing by this region.
Do the right thing for this country because we are “all in this together”.
Photo: Meeting with the Carwoola Community Association.