Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the Opposition) (14:00): by leave, I move:
That the House:
(1) commends the people of Victoria for the sacrifices they have made in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic;
(2) congratulates the people of Victoria for their achievement in overcoming the second wave;
(3) notes the people of Victoria have succeeded because, despite the hardship it has entailed, they have heeded the advice of dedicated public health officials;
(4) expresses its gratitude to the people of Victoria on behalf of a grateful nation; and
(5) resolves that this message be conveyed to the Premier of Victoria.
As our fellow Australians in Victoria emerge from lockdown, we should join together in this place to acknowledge the magnitude of their efforts. We express, through this motion, our admiration of Victorians for their bravery, their fortitude and, not least, their sheer stamina. Victorians have demonstrated the true meaning of ‘We are all in this together.’ Victorian businesses have been doing it tough. Victorian families have been doing it tough. Members of parliament, of course, have had to quarantine in order to attend the parliament, but it’s their families that have done it tough through this process. While the rest of the country came out of the harshest lockdowns, silence fell across the great city of Melbourne. We watched the rest of the nation returning to some semblance of normal life while Victorians endured—but understood—the necessity for restrictions on activity, with curfews and the five-kilometres radius.
During this second wave, Victorians were under strict stay-at-home rules for some 110 days. That has an impact on people’s mental health. It has an impact on the way that they live their everyday lives. No issue could be more important for this parliament to deal with than the motion that I’ve just moved. On the weekend, Victorians even had to endure watching an AFL grand final being played at the Gabba. Victorians showed their resilience by the fact that two Victorian teams, Richmond and Geelong, fought out such a fantastic game on Saturday night, but it was tough for the supporters and for the normal activity that takes place. I’m a proud Sydneysider, but I recognise that the Melbourne Cricket Ground is the greatest stadium in Australia. There is no question that that is the case.
Victorians have indeed paid a price, but now they reap the benefit, the dividend. Consider the numbers. We only need to go back to 30 July. On that day, Victoria had 723 new cases. This was just behind the United Kingdom, which had 846 cases, and uncomfortably close to France, which on that day had 1,377 cases. Let’s have a look at yesterday. France, from 1,377, was up to 26,768 new cases. In the United Kingdom numbers were about the same as Victoria just back in July. Yesterday it had 20,890 new cases. It’s a nation going back into lockdown. That’s why the sacrifice of Victorians should be acknowledged by our national parliament—because the whole of Australia has benefited from their sacrifice. The whole of Australia has benefited from the fact that the Victorian government listened to the health advice, took action and ensured that those numbers were turned around so that, instead of an increase such as in the UK from 846 to 20,000, they went from 723 new cases to zero cases.
There was some criticism on Sunday of the fact that the Premier of Victoria took the sensible position of waiting until the tests that had been taken in the northern suburbs of Melbourne came through. They came through with a beautiful figure—zero, a big doughnut. And, today, that’s turned into a bagel—double zero. For two days in a row there have been no new cases in Victoria. Because of that, tonight at 11.59 pm, Victoria opens back up. That’s good news for all Victorians. It’s good news for Victorian businesses, particularly in hospitality and in other activities. It’s a return to normal.
The fact is that Victoria has done it tough. There are 817 people who have died from COVID-19 in Victoria, overwhelmingly in aged care, and aged care is something that this parliament is responsible for. So in this moment, as Victoria emerges, we want to be in a position, though, of passing on condolences to all of those who have been impacted. We also remember the fact that it has been difficult in terms of people being unable to visit loved ones as well.
This motion is a good one and I am pleased that the government has allowed for this debate. In terms of the motion that is before the parliament, it will be seconded by the deputy leader. I commend the motion to the parliament where we wish all Victorians well going forward. We ask that this be conveyed on our behalf to the Victorian Premier and the Victorian people, and we say, ‘Well done.’