• The Tawny Frogmouth

Manly MP's COVID Response

The Tawny Frogmouth sat down with James Griffin to discuss his response to the Christmas Covid lockdown.

James with Manly Long Board Co.

G'day James. Needless to say it’s been a rough Christmas and New Year for everyone. How have you been? It has been a rough time. A lot of people were looking forward to easing into the Christmas break with the virus under control, and I’ll be honest I was looking forward to some time at home with my family after a big year.

Absolutely, and then whack, suddenly all these cases come out and we’re back into lockdown. It really has been hard for so many people, and not just because Christmas Lunch got stolen by the virus. I said from the start that this was just an absolute kick in the guts to everyone. We all know of the businesses that lost their bookings overnight and very quickly found themselves up against the wall in what was meant to be one of the busiest periods of the year. One local business lost over $45,000 of bookings in a day and there’s no way to quickly make that back. But it’s also been extraordinary to see how people have come together to support each other. Not just in the last few weeks but over the whole of 2020.

Tell us more about that . What’s been going on and how have people been helped? Firstly I think we need to congratulate every person that listened to the health advice and stayed home. We had record test levels from the first day and still have high levels of testing occurring even now and that’s really going to be how we get on top of the pandemic.

That's been the message right through the pandemic and I think we all agree Australia has come out very well compared to other countries. What’s been the local response? The effort from local businesses and individuals has been great. There have been wonderful displays of compassion. For instance, I joined Dr Daniel and Professor Ravi from the Street Side Medics days after cases came to light in the Northern Beaches. They do great work making healthcare more accessible to the homeless community which is especially important during this time. The Manly Business Chamber has been running on overdrive with a number of virtual roundtables with local businesses. It has been very sobering hearing the immediate impacts of the restrictions. Disastrous probably doesn’t even begin to describe what happened. But while it was terrible, the sentiment from many has been very understanding as well. I think we all knew why this needed to be done and that if we didn’t act then the infections would quickly spiral out of control and force a longer, more severe lockdown.

The big question is what happens now? How are you going to get us out of this hole? I've always been about delivering actual fixes to problems and not just complaining about the situation. What we have to do as the Government is get this response right, because the experience here in Manly will be the template for other areas if this happens again. I’m grateful to my colleagues in the Ministry who immediately came out to listen to the concerns of businesses, particularly the Treasurer and the Finance Minister who both joined in meetings with the Business Chamber over Christmas. We have the Small Business Commissioner currently visiting and talking to owners as he writes his report which will advise the Government what support measures are needed. They have already had some great announcements including the Governments “Dine and Discover” vouchers being rolled out first in Manly and there will be more to come. I think the important thing that’s really come out of my conversations though has been that we will come back from this. Manly is resilient and so many local business owners and employers are prepared to put in the hard yards, to keep their doors open and keep people in jobs. The Commissioner’s report will go to the Government this month and I’ll be talking to every minister I can getting the response Manly needs to help us pull through.

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