7 September 2020

The announcement yesterday by the Victorian Government of its roadmap for regional Victoria was bitterly disappointing.

Not undermining the risks that the coronavirus presents, the very restrictive roadmap presented by the Government for regional Victoria is devastating for thousands of regional businesses, many of which have been just holding on for the last six weeks.

I have been pressing the Government since June to adopt a targeted and localised approach to restrictions in Northern Victoria, in particular the local government areas that have had zero active cases for extended periods.  In my discussions with Government in the lead up to debate of the proposed extension to the State of Emergency, I was told definitively that this was part of their planning.  The results are underwhelming, to say the least, and a galaxy away from those assurances.

In Northern Victoria, there are currently 17 local government areas with not even a single case of the coronavirus. The steps presented by the Government in the regional roadmap are a lost opportunity to allow many businesses the chance to safely trade within their own community.  Case numbers in Geelong should not be a precursor to restrictions placed on Corryong, or vice versa.

Our regional economy is further decimated each day that these lockdowns continue. Jobs are lost, businesses will collapse, mental health problems escalate, schoolchildren face setbacks, family violence incidents increase, and people lose more hope.

I call on the Government to urgently reconsider the alternatives that can manage the health risks and provide some economic flexibility and an immediate reopening for businesses in areas where there are no active cases.  Otherwise, we risk this roadmap being a road to ruin.