Holiday in town and help your region continue post-COVID recovery

Regions applauded for efforts and advised to keep it local

Opinion
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Leader of The Nationals Peter Walsh calls for regional Victorians to continue supporting local businesses.

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Victorians outside Melbourne have been praised for supporting their communities during lockdown by Nationals Leader Peter Walsh.

Victorians outside Melbourne have been praised for supporting their communities during lockdown by Nationals Leader Peter Walsh.

There is light at the end of the tunnel as regional Victoria comes out of the second wave of lockdowns.

In these unusual pandemic times, we have all had to make choices we never thought we would be asked to make.

As a member for a regional electorate that has been living the daily pain of border closures, I know all too well the sacrifices we have made to get our communities on-track to 'COVID-19 normal'.

Regional Victorians don't just live where we do for the sake of it being a close commute to the office.

It is the great outdoors that is right on our doorstep, the local businesses and the overwhelming sense of being united by the pride we have in our community.

But these are the exact things we have been asked to give up in the past few months.

We have missed weddings and saying a final farewell to those who are most important to us.

Businesses have closed and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs.

The local football and netball league, bowls clubs and other community sports that fall under the categories of 'indoor' or 'contact' have been cancelled entirely.

Victoria is still the only state to have endured a second wave of COVID-19 lockdowns - and most gutting is that it could have been avoided.

State Premier Daniel Andrews' own inquiry found that 99 per cent of coronavirus cases were a result of Victoria's botched hotel quarantine program.

Combined with poor contact tracing, outbreaks spread like wildfire and forced us into the strictest shutdowns in the nation.

That all changes today.

As restrictions ease, I encourage you all to get back into your communities and engage with your local businesses and service providers. There is no question they need your support.

For those who still feel uneasy about travelling, take a holiday in your own town - support the hotels and local experiences that are available in your own backyard.

There are still problems with the recovery 'roadmap' that must urgently be fixed.

Top of this list are problems with movement in the food supply chain - particularly interstate - which must be resolved if we are going to support our farmers to meet growing demand as we head into the busy Christmas period.

It is important we protect our livelihoods and make sure we don't slip into a third wave, which will harm our own physical, mental and financial wellbeing.

The Andrews Labor Government let us down with hotel quarantine, poor contact tracing and it's 'ring of marshmallow' around Melbourne that failed to protect us from hotspots in the city.

If our businesses and communities are to have confidence in recovery, the Premier must finally enforce his ring of steel, check people travelling on V/Line and keep the virus in Melbourne.

We have all sacrificed too much to lose it due to the Andrews Labor Government's incompetence.

There is still so much more to be done, but today we thank regional Victorians for the contribution you have made to get us to this point.

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