September 18, 2020

The easing of restrictions in regional Victoria this week is a huge relief for both our businesses and for everyday life. I love seeing tables and chairs appearing again on our streets and the smiling eyes behind the masks of café owners and customers. There was cautious optimism when I met shoppers in Wodonga, Benalla and Beechworth yesterday and today. And fresh hope among hospitality businesses that they’ll soon be welcoming regional Victorians.

But I’ll have to watch the continuing return to daily life from behind my home fence. I have to quarantine for two weeks from September 19 ahead of returning to Canberra and Parliament for the delayed 2020 Budget on October 6. The latest figures reporting how many people in Indi are relying on JobSeeker and the Youth Allowance show why we need to maintain these programs as the impact of COVID-19 continues to affect us. And why the government needs to invest in shovel-ready projects identified in my Budget submission to create and maintain jobs in our communities.

Changes on the border are very welcome, but still some communities that should be in the Victorian part of the border zone defined by the NSW Government remain excluded. It makes no sense, for example, for Tawonga South in the Kiewa Valley and the Ovens Valley communities of Porepunkah, Havilah, Rosewhite and Eurobin to be left out when Bright and Myrtleford are not. I am working to fix this.

I’m so looking forward to the launch of our Local Power Plan on Wednesday, September 23. In a week when the Prime Minister announces a plan to build a gas-fired power station and funnel subsidies to the gas industry, I’m really encouraged to be finalising with our communities the release of a plan to lower power costs, create investment and build jobs in renewables in rural and regional Australia.

As always, I welcome your feedback and ideas and I encourage you to visit my website where you can access many resources and all of my parliamentary speeches. You can also contact me and my staff:

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Image: Filming for the launch of the Local Power Plan with videographer Jerun Terlaak, from Beechworth, and Richard Iskov, from Wangaratta, at home on September 8.