Mr NORTHE (Morwell) (09:57): I rise to acknowledge the terrible impacts the COVID-19 virus is having upon individuals, families and businesses within my community. I have received many contacts from anxious and vulnerable members of our community in regard to the panic buying of others, which has now led to a shortage of essential items in supermarket aisles and shelves. It is little wonder they are fearful of the current situation. The aged, the disadvantaged and those with a disability or health or mental health challenge need to be supported throughout this crisis, and I put it to the government and to grocery retailers that more has to be done to support these people. Some are unable to get to supermarkets easily and welfare agencies are also without supply, so in my view strong interventions need to occur. It is difficult to observe and comprehend the ugly behaviours of some people at this time—it is simply un-Australian.
Of course many business owners and their employees are also feeling the pressures of a downturn in trade in these trying times. The reality is we need strong, practical government assistance that will make a positive difference on the ground so our businesses are able to survive and then thrive, particularly when many have their livelihoods on the line. Whilst I understand it is not easy, businesses urgently require government financial and taxation relief at this critical time. As locals we can do our bit by shopping local where possible.
I would like to genuinely and deeply thank the work, support and tireless dedication of all of our healthcare sector workers—doctors, nurses, hospital staff and others on the front line of this crisis. We thank you for the vital role you are playing at this time.