I write to respectfully request that you reconsider the blanket stage 3 lockdown of regional Victoria. I ask you to consider long term policy settings that rely on a targeted approach, rather than broad brush strokes that unnecessarily threaten regional communities.
Hotspots must be isolated and strong restrictions placed on communities where outbreaks have occurred. Shutting businesses and keeping kids at home in places where there are very low case numbers, and where there is no community transmission, risks decimating the food bowl of Victoria and its already socially isolated communities.
This disruption to community life in the regions is not supported by the vast number of council mayors in my electorate of Mallee, whom I have spoken to about the changes this morning. I urge you to reconsider your decision to lockdown regional Victoria. Unjustifiable restrictions on regional communities will have detrimental effects on our mental health, education, and economy.
On 2 August, Minister Merlino stated that sending all students home will maintain a ‘level playing field’ for VCE students. This is disingenuous, as any family in the country will tell you. Digital connectivity, workforce shortages and fewer resources, and lack of choice in terms of subjects and tertiary facilities, all create barriers for regional students.
Systems of testing, tracing, and isolation are essential to getting on top of this virus, but our regions are not struggling to manage these processes. Regional Victoria is not Melbourne.
I understand you are concerned that regional Victoria is heading the way of Melbourne, but I urge you to adopt a targeted approach to restrictions, rather than a blanket approach. Please let unaffected regional and remote communities live our lives without undue disruption.
Anne Webster MP
Federal Member for Mallee