Mr NORTHE (Morwell) (19:14): (6162) My adjournment debate is directed to the Premier, and the action I seek is for the Premier to enact a COVID-specific campaign award program that goes some way to recognising the incredible efforts of the many people, businesses and organisations who have assisted and are still assisting us to get through the COVID situation here in Victoria. A COVID campaign award program could be adopted along similar lines to that of the campaign fire award system, whereby firefighters and others are recognised for their service in a severe bushfire event. I believe such a system would have great merit and would be well received by the recipients and the community more broadly. The reality is people have gone over and beyond the call of duty during these past 21 months across a variety of fields and endeavours, whether it be those working on vaccinations, to those involved in the distribution of essential goods and items, to those undertaking COVID testing, to those doing test results, to those administering vaccinations, to those working in our health, mental health and business sectors and to our volunteers and more. There will be thousands of deserving nominations, I would have thought. Quite often in the whole COVID fog some people can be forgotten, and I think a COVID campaign award system would draw out the efforts and dedication of unassuming people who have gone about their business to help others during such a trying period.
In the spirit of Christmas and the festive season I also just want to place on the record the thanks of myself and my staff to various persons working in ministers’ offices who have been very helpful during COVID. I can say that I do not agree with many of the decisions, rules and restrictions that have been made in response to COVID, but I do appreciate it is also an extremely difficult and complex decision-making process that governments have to consider. Again, whilst I may not agree with some of the rules and restrictions, it is our role as MPs to pass on the relevant information to our constituents, and this information is often crucial to what people and businesses can and cannot do. Invariably clarification of certain situations and circumstances is required, so on an almost daily basis we are running questions and scenarios past various ministers’ offices on behalf of our constituents.
So to Jackson from the Minister for Health’s office, to Mounir in the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery’s office, to James in the Premier’s office, to Sinead in the Deputy Premier’s office, to Phil in the Treasurer’s office, to Sam and Abraam in the Minister for Public Transport’s office—formerly Sam—and to all staff in other ministerial offices with whom we have worked during COVID, we say thank you. Please know your efforts have not gone unnoticed. I know in many cases you are the bearer of not-so-positive news, but my office have always found you and others in similar roles very responsive despite the tirade of information, emails and calls you are no doubt fielding. In closing I again place my request to the Premier to establish a COVID-specific campaign award or similar program so that we can pay tribute to those who have supported our communities during such a difficult time.