By Matthew Guy
In 365 days, Victorians will be at the polling booths, casting their votes on who they want to govern the state for the next four years.
Crucially, it’ll be the chance to have your say on the consequences of Labor’s world-record setting 263-day lockdown.
This has affected regional Victoria in ways we once couldn’t have imagined.
Entire communities have been locked down on a whim, without ever recording a single case of coronavirus.
From Wodonga to Mildura, border communities were left in the dark as confusion became the new normality. Daily errands such as crossing the Murray River to get groceries or see the physio were put on hold, often waiting days to get clarity from the government.
The waitlist for elective surgery was already at record levels prior to the pandemic and has now swelled to more than 67,000.
Business owners were forced to shut their doors and locals were denied yet another service.
The toll on our mental health is unlike anything we’ve ever seen.
And some communities know the chaos of when the virus spread to the regions all too well.
The Yarra Valley has not been immune to this.
Locals were frustrated when subjected to the same restrictions as Melbourne, despite being an hour from the CBD.
But, in trying times the community banded together and turned out in droves to get tested and vaccinated.
Today, much of the area has surpassed 90 per cent fully vaccinated. That number will only increase.
But the aftermath is and will remain very real.
Hundreds of family businesses will not reopen. Confidence is fractured. Residents are fatigued.
In a further blow, as normality drew closer, the Andrews Labor Government attempted to bulldoze through the Parliament the most dangerous and controlling laws our state has ever seen.
These extreme laws will allow the Premier of the day to declare a pandemic even if there is no pandemic in our state, or country.
It’s not surprising this was opposed by 60 QCs, the Victorian Bar, the Law Institute, Liberty Victoria, the Chamber of Commerce, the Human Rights Commissioner, the Human Rights Law Centre, and the Ombudsman.
And that’s why we’ve committed that if elected, we will tear up this bad Bill.
It’s time for regional Victoria to recover and rebuild.
Before we know it, November will roll around and Victorians will be faced with a choice. A choice to get Labor’s city-focused infrastructure blowouts, which shred vital funds from the regions, under control.
A choice to create more jobs by backing small business revival and to catch up on lost learning in the classroom.
A choice to end the mental health crisis and reduce hospital waiting lists.
The Liberal Nationals are optimistic about Victoria’s future. All of Victoria.
365 days to go.