Canberrans Response to COVID-19 - 12/05/2020

12 May 2020



I also want to talk about coronavirus tonight. It has taken over our lives but it has brought out the best of our community here in Canberra and across Australia. Canberra has had 107 confirmed cases, 104 recoveries, over 11,800 negative test results and, tragically, three deaths. I want to give my deepest sympathies to the families and friends who have lost a loved one, including my colleague the member for Cooper, Ged Kearney and her partner, Leigh, who lost his father, Mike, a member of our Canberra community.

I want to thank Canberrans for staying home. Your efforts have protected not only your own health but those most vulnerable in our community. I want to thank our doctors; nurses; medical professionals; cleaners, who play such a critical role in combatting this virus; supermarket workers; bus and light rail workers, who continue to operate our public transport; public servants, who have been working so hard to deliver services and the policy response; Canberra businesses, who are innovating so well to continue serving our community; our early childhood educators, who have been keeping this essential service running in spite of challenges exacerbated by the government's package; our teachers, who have pivoted quickly to deliver online learning and who are now pivoting back over the coming weeks and months to teach our children in the classroom once again; our community organisations, who are providing support to those left behind by the Morrison government during this pandemic.

I also particularly want to thank the ACT government, in particular our Chief Minister, Andrew Barr, and health minister, Rachel Stephen-Smith. I've taken great comfort and pride in the ACT government's response, leading the way from the start and ensuring that we are so well prepared. They've also been working to support the people left out of the federal government's response, including temporary visa holders, creating the Jobs for Canberrans Fund and supporting our local arts sector.

People have been left behind in this response, and one group I want to talk about in particular is students. I'm so pleased that Labor is calling on the government to lift the parental income test on youth allowance during this crisis on a case-by-case basis so that there is something through which our young people can have some support to survive. The ANU Students Association in my electorate delivered 47 emergency grants in the whole of 2019 and in the last 4½ months they have delivered 539 at a value of over $337,000, which really shows the level of need in the community. We must extend support to everyone. People cannot be left behind. We're keen to work with the government constructively on this.