The people of my electorate remain hopeful that out of the dark days of our bushfire experience and out of the fear of the pandemic come the jobs and prosperity of our future.
These experiences have re-written our lives – what we have learnt needs to count – otherwise we fail the lives lost, the homes destroyed, and the businesses forced to shut.
We have the chance to reimagine Australia and provide a vision for our country that unites and inspires.
As I travel my vast and beautiful electorate, people talk to me about the need for more secure, locally based jobs that have the potential to care for community and care for country.
The people of Eden-Monaro see what needs to be done and grow tired of waiting for this government to act.
The forestry industry in the South West Slopes supports one in every two jobs and creates $2 billion in economic activity every year.
Our Black Summer Bushfires took out 40% of Hyne Timber’s plantation pine supply.
By the middle of this year - 157 jobs could be lost from Snowy Valleys, 140 of which are in Tumbarumba if the supply shortfall isn’t filled.
The business has found timber from further afield that with some small transport assistance could be redirected from overseas processing, and instead processed locally.
This common-sense approach is still waiting for government support.
Mr Deputy Speaker, while I’m talking about the South West Slopes – I visited the community of Talbingo last week to meet with residents there.
We talked about bushfire recovery and the lost jobs that have been ripped out of the region and centralised in Sydney.
The land managers that used to manage our bushfire risk – those jobs are gone and with them the local knowledge and pay packets that go with them.
Nearly two years ago this government announced a $4 billion Emergency Response and Mitigation Fund.
Not a single dollar of that fund has been spent.
Anxiety was through the roof headed into this fire season – communities from the mountains to the sea needed to see women and men in our environment managing the landscape – they saw none of that.
While rain has reduced our immediate fire risk, those jobs in caring for our country are desperately needed in regional communities.
And while businesses in Eden-Monaro haven’t been dealing with bushfires this summer, they’ve been dealing with equally devastating border closures.
Business owners have been ringing me in tears – describing their trauma of losing their summer trade for the second year in a row.
In some of these areas, our tourism, hospitality and retail businesses generate 70 to 80 percent of their yearly earnings during the 6-week summer holiday period.
We fear for the jobs and livelihoods that depend on these small businesses.
Since the devastating border closure on New Year’s Eve, I’ve met with business chambers in Bega, Tumut and Jindabyne.
Small business owners in Eden-Monaro need help – help in the form of travel vouchers to entice visitation back to these communities, or tax incentives and concessions to those businesses hardest hit.
Mental health support for these business owners is also desperately needed.
And finally, Mr Deputy Speaker, recent news that Telstra will be closing its overseas call centres and bringing those jobs back to Australia presents another opportunity for jobs in the region.
I urge those decision makers to continue supporting regions like Eden-Monaro by establishing those call centres in fire-affected communities like mine.
More than two million Australians are looking for work in this country right now – but this government is failing to see the opportunities that are right in front of us.
Instead we have a trillion-dollar debt and no answers from this government to the questions screaming at us from the future.
Media contact: Ian Campbell, phone: 0417 482 171