STATEMENT

September 7, 2020

Comments by Helen Haines MP, Independent Federal Member for Indi, about Victoria’s COVID-19 regional ‘roadmap’ released on September 6:

I’m disappointed that the road map to reopening regional Victoria shows little change in the short term.

I’m hearing from businesses and everyday people that they had hoped for a broader easing of restrictions in regional areas where there are no active cases of COVID and haven’t been for some time.

Our friends and family in Melbourne are doing it really tough and our heart goes out to them and the sacrifices they are making. But rural and regional Victoria is currently in a very different environment.

The economies in regional Victoria could be doing much to support the overall state and national economy. In regional areas where there are no active cases, opening business again seems to make sense. The cafes, wineries, shops and services up and down our main streets, with strong COVID-Safe plans, are ready to get back to business. And we are ready to support them.

As a former health worker, I know how important it is to stop the spread. I appreciate how difficult it is for the Premier to balance so many interests.

But his announcement has made it clear that we’re looking at months, not weeks, until we can reopen. After drought, bushfire and border closures, regional Victorians would welcome the opportunity to re-establish our economy quicker than the current plan allows.

Today I’ll be writing to the Premier reflecting the situation in North East Victoria and asking him to reconsider what is needed in the regions.

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