26 August 2021

This piece was first published in Canberra Weekly on Thursday 26 August 2021.

We’re now entering our third week of lockdown in the ACT following the confirmation of the first COVID case in more than a year in the territory. Like many Canberrans, I have been thankful for the leadership of Andrew Barr and the ACT Government for taking the necessary and swift action to keep our community safe, and everything that Canberrans have been doing in response. Thank you to all the Canberrans who have got tested, quarantined and stayed home, and to all the essential workers supporting us all.

This lockdown comes in the context of a dire COVID situation nationally, with more than 13 million Australians subject to stay-at-home orders as the Delta strain wreaks havoc across our communities in the face of struggling vaccination rates.

Last year as we went into a national lockdown the Federal Government provided the JobKeeper wage subsidy to support businesses to stay afloat and to keep their employees on. We are now facing an equally bad, if not worse situation, and the Morrison Government should be providing similar supports again. The current assistance available from the Morrison Government is only provided to designated hotspots. Canberra businesses are telling me that they need certainty beyond our lockdown. The situation nationally affects us all and requires a national response.

Last year the Federal Government also doubled the JobSeeker unemployment payment, acknowledging that people couldn’t live on $40 a day and also that this was an important stimulus to the economy. They lifted half a million people out of poverty, but then delivered a permanent increase of only $3.50 a day. A social safety net that that allows all Australians to live with dignity is essential at all times, and particularly in a pandemic.


In the thick of this bad news and rising case numbers it can be easy to lose hope. Canberrans have faced the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic with resilience and by doing the right thing by each other and that is why this time around with the latest outbreak, I know our response will be no different.


We know our best line of defence against the virus is vaccination. It’s inspiring to see so many Canberrans coming out in force to be vaccinated as they get their opportunity. We now have the highest rate of vaccination in the country, with 36.24 per cent of people over 16 being fully vaccinated. It was welcome news this week that 16-29 year olds will now be able to register to get vaccinated, particularly as younger Canberrans have been most impacted by the current outbreak.


The outbreak has shown the Delta strain is highly infectious in children. Our kids aren’t vaccinated and won’t be for a while yet. Going out and getting vaccinated is the best thing we can do by our children in this outbreak.

Thank you Ken Behrens for everything you are doing to keep our community safe. It’s not easy, but we will get through this.

This piece was first published in Canberra Weekly on Thursday 26 August 2021.