Across my electorate, the first day of spring usually represents the turning point for communities. In the Snowies, it usually means there are only a few weeks left of the snow season, with the last skiers and snowboarders filling the slopes for their last chance of a good run down the mountains. On the coast, it's when whale season is getting into full swing, and visitors from Canberra, Victoria and across New South Wales come to the area to experience a few degrees of extra warmth.
But this year the change of season isn't bringing with it the same feeling of fulfillment, anticipation or excitement. The school holidays can no longer be relied upon as a time of good tourism traffic, because Eden-Monaro has lost most of the last seven school holidays, first to bushfires and then to the first outbreak of COVID followed by border closures, further outbreaks and now this lockdown.
The snow is almost gone, and the money that usually comes with it was gone a long time ago. We can't replicate winter, and now our businesses must wait till next season to get another chance at that snow traffic. For an area of the country that has had next to no COVID cases and, luckily, has avoided outbreaks, what is happening in other regions across New South Wales is continuing to have a devastating effect on our communities. Last year, local businesses had JobKeeper. They had a way to keep the connection between themselves and their employees. People kept their jobs. This year the support that's available breaks that link.
This is almost two years of missed tourism income, and our businesses can't hold on much longer.