Yesterday I had the great pleasure of watching a performance by a junior national champion dance team. The young girls who make up Bom Funk Dance Studio's Rubies team were crowned national champions earlier this year. They're an incredibly talented group, but they didn't get to celebrate their competition win in the way you'd expect. In fact, they didn't even get to attend the competition in person and, instead, had to perform via Zoom. This is because these girls live and dance in Jerrabomberra. They go to school in Canberra and live their lives in the Canberra region, but, because they live in New South Wales, they were unable to travel to South Australia where the competition took place. Canberra based teams were able to travel, though.
Here we are at the end of 2021, and once again people are hoping this summer and next year will be different. In December 2020, we were all hoping 2021 would be better. Everyone remembers the memes that were shared on social media saying, 'It's only up from here,' and that 2021 couldn't possibly be worse than 2020. But then on New Year's Eve, before 2021 had even started, the Victorian border was snapped shut and thousands of people cut their holiday short as they fled to get across the Victorian border because of an outbreak on the northern shores of Sydney. Going into 2022, one thing is certain: we need a plan and we need a leader who will unite our country. People are sick of this state-versus-state rhetoric that has featured over the past two years. That's something that should only matter on the football field. People in my communities which border the ACT and Victoria are sick of having to be across three different sets of rules and restrictions. Going forward, we need leadership at the national level. My communities need one cohesive policy, and they need clarity and certainty around border closures and lockdowns.
I've been fortunate to have been able to travel across my electorate and talk with business owners and staff. They would not survive a third wave. Just yesterday two businesses in Jerrabomberra said the exact same thing. As we go into another summer, people are tentatively hoping this holiday period will be better. With the majority of the Eden-Monaro reliant on the tourist economy, businesses are hoping that tourists will not only return but come back and spend their money in our local stores, cafes and restaurants and do our different experiences. In Eden, they've once again erected a sign that says, 'Welcome back, Victorians.' Further up the coast there's a similar sign welcoming back Canberrans. Our communities are preparing to welcome tourists with open arms. So I encourage everyone to please go out and support them. It means the world to small and family businesses right across our region. A very merry Christmas to you all, and we hope for nothing more than a prosperous and happy 2022.