• Loddon Herald

Don't overlook key tools

By LOUISE STALEY



CONGRATULATIONS to the Loddon Herald on its first six months of providing local news to the communities of the Loddon Shire.

It has been a difficult six months for any business. It is marvellous to see a local newspaper thriving in uncertain times.

It feels a lot like deja vu in regional Victoria at the moment. We have just come out of our fifth harsh lockdown, only to enter an uncertain period of ongoing restrictions.

I have heard from many Ripon locals who are sick and tired of Daniel Andrews imposing the same restrictions in Regional Victoria as Melbourne.

It may come as a surprise to the Melbourne-centric Labor Government, but we don’t all live in Melbourne, and there are hundreds of thousands of Victorians who are being ignored.

The Liberal Nationals have repeatedly called on the Andrews Government to use targeted lockdowns as a last resort.

There are many communities across Ripon where there has never been a case of COVID-19.

The government must weigh up the risks against the unden-iable toll that lockdowns take on mental health, children missing months of school and businesses desperately trying to survive.

The Delta strain of COVID-19 is spreading in New South Wales, and cases coming over the border sparked our latest lockdown.

The Andrew Labor Government needs to do everything possible to protect Victorians. So far, they have failed to use rapid testing, which could play a crucial role in ensuring no new cases come to Victoria.

It is frustrating to see the government continue to overlook essential tools in the fight against COVID-19 while rushing to lock down communities across the state.

There have been so many disappointments during this pandemic, and we continue to see much-loved community events cancelled. The Australian Sheep and Wool Show had to be cancelled for the second year running, and we’ve now heard that the Melbourne Show has been shelved again this year. Add to this the countless footy club functions, religious celebrations and community events cancelled during Victoria’s five lockdowns. These events bring communities together, give people something to look forward to and help fight the isolation and loneliness that many in our communities face.

While this pandemic and the Andrews Labor Government’s constant lockdowns have taken a toll, I know that the communities in the Loddon Shire will continue to pull together to overcome the challenges we all face.

The number one thing we can all do to support local businesses is to spend money with them.

If you need something, try to shop locally instead of supporting big online retailers.

While we cannot visit anybody at home, we can catch up with friends and families at local cafes and restaurants. With ongoing restrictions, many businesses will be struggling to make ends meet, and your support will go a long way. Small business owners have sacrificed so much to stay afloat through this pandemic, providing vital goods, services and jobs. We must support them before it’s too late.

* Louise Staley is the member for Ripon



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