Businesses across the whole state need certainty, not blanket lockdowns

Long-lasting regional impacts of lockdown

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Blanket lockdowns due to COVID-19 are hurting businesses across the whole State, as people stay home, events are cancelled and tourism plummets.

Blanket lockdowns due to COVID-19 are hurting businesses across the whole State, as people stay home, events are cancelled and tourism plummets.

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COMMENT: The Nationals leader looks at the long-lasting regional impacts of lockdown.

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COMMENT

The most recent lockdown in Victoria may have lasted five days, but the impacts will be long-lasting across our regional communities.

When Daniel Andrews announced late on Friday - ahead of the busy Valentine's Day weekend - that the coronavirus had again leaked out of government-run hotel quarantine, it sent businesses and community groups into a spiral of costly cancellations.

In my home town of Swan Hill, alone, the cost to the community was estimated at more than $2.5 million - after lockdown forced the cancellation of the annual Victorian Country Week Tennis Tournament that brings hundreds of people into town.

The snap lockdown led to a surge in requests for mental health support.

Lifeline received its third-highest number of calls in its almost 60-years of operation.

I'm not naive enough to say that mistakes won't happen while we all battle a pandemic.

There are always going to be unknowns that the government must address.

But the difference is, the Andrews Labor Government just isn't learning from its mistakes.

There's been more than enough time to learn how to safely deliver hotel quarantine and effective contact tracing.

But we are still waking-up with the daily uncertainty of what we will get when Mr Andrews parades in front of the cameras.

We have just emerged from a third statewide lockdown.

The question must be asked, why does this keep happening?

And why is Victoria suffering from such serious and consistent lapses in management of the government's hotel quarantine program and contact tracing?

Despite still failing to get the basics right, Mr Andrews has moved to keep his extreme power over Victorians' lives and livelihoods until the end of 2021.

It is part of a debate going on in the Victorian Parliament to extend the State of Emergency powers.

Rather than allowing Parliament to review this on a month-by-month basis, Labor is asking for nine months.

A nine-month blank cheque to close your business, your children's school and force you to cancel weddings and funerals.

But at the same time, Mr Andrews refuses to tell us the truth about what went wrong in hotel quarantine that lead to the second wave - and to release public health advice behind his third lockdown decision.

This Labor Government just doesn't care.

Well, Premier, Victorians have had enough.

The spin, the rhetoric, the lies and the incompetence has to stop. The cost to us is too great.

Mr Andrews must put his arrogance aside and look to other states for his 'gold standard'.

New South Wales has successfully managed to keep outbreaks under control using good contact tracing, which saves the need to lockdown the entire state.

We need certainty, but this will only happen when the Andrews Government fixes the holes in its hotel quarantine system and ensures contact tracing is up-to-scratch.

More blanket lockdowns will only sound the death knell for more country Victorian jobs and businesses.

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