Constituency Statement: Coronavirus

  • March 3, 2020

I rise to talk about the risks of the coronavirus, which I know is causing anxiety for all Australians, including many of my residents. That’s perhaps understandable when we see some of the imagery coming from other countries around the world. But I want to make the clear point that Australia is not one of those countries. We are a nation which, at both the state and federal level, is prepared for any eventuality. So whilst those concerns are understandable, I want to give some assurance to Australians and residents of my electorate that we are prepared to meet any of the challenges that might face us over the months ahead.

In that regard, I want to pay credit to all of those in state governments across the country and, in particular, the federal government who are working so hard on the contingency planning and prevention measures that have already been adopted. In particular, I would mention our own chief medical officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, someone I’ve previously had the pleasure of working with in my role as chair of the standing committee on health. And I know that we are in exceptionally capable hands.

Professor Murphy and all the state agencies are providing advice to residents, and I want to reiterate some of that today. Firstly, obviously, personal hygiene is very important. Secondly, it is important that we carry on with our lives and not be afraid of going to local businesses and restaurants ,or even attending big events, because all the advice we have is that there is no risk from doing so.

I also want to mention some of the imagery of empty supermarket shelves that is appearing on social media in my electorate. It makes no sense that people are rushing out to buy things like bulk supplies of toilet paper. That is simply not necessary. I would say it was a little bit ridiculous and silly; but the sad fact is that, when people do that, there is a serious consequence. I want people to think about the fact that, this week, there will be older Australians, and maybe Australians with disabilities, going out for their weekly shop and finding they can’t find the things that they actually do need for the week ahead. So I would ask residents to reflect seriously on whether it is truly necessary for them to engage in those types of practices when all of the advice is that we don’t need to be concerned in that way.

I want to acknowledge the role of the Chinese community in my electorate. I know that many businesses have been hit hard over the last couple of weeks. Some restaurants have reported a decline in trade of up to 50 per cent. But the great news is that they are bouncing back, and I’m really pleased to see that. I hope that by leading by example—I have enjoyed far too many yum chas over the last two weeks—I have encouraged others to do the same.

It will be a tough time for our nation and many parts of the world over the coming weeks and months. The important thing is that we listen to their professional advice and act accordingly.