I rise to support the amendment. I think these are very dark days, that we are living through a time that none of us have lived through before. We started the year in shocking drought. We started the year with terrible bushfires. Our communities have been plunged into the worst crisis they have ever experienced, and that has had an amazing impact on our communities. I come to Melbourne and I look at the streets of Melbourne and they are pretty empty. I thought it might have just been Shepparton. I thought it might just have been Nathalia and Numurkah and my communities, but our towns are really suffering and so clearly is Melbourne, but I can only speak for my community.
We have so many people out of work at the moment, and companies are coming to me talking about the loss of further jobs and what that will mean for some of these big companies. It is very distressing to hear what is going on out there. We also have a whole lot of people in our community, older people, people over 65 and 70, who are very afraid. They are afraid of the disease, they are afraid of the opening up, they are afraid of many of the changes that are coming, and they are afraid that they may have to stay locked up for a very long time. They are starting to feel like they are the forgotten people. They are the ones who will have to stay behind closed doors and have deliveries come to them, for how long?
Now, there are a lot of other people in the community who are desperate to keep going, and they need to get going. They need their businesses to open, they need to re-employ people. Everyone has that fear of JobKeeper and JobSeeker finishing in a few months time. What will that mean? They have been incredible buffers to the reality of this absolute crisis and pandemic that we are in at the moment.
For us to now leave this place and not come back until August, to stick to a timetable that was set in different times is to me a failure on all of us. I am not here to talk about the politics of it; I am talking about what our community would expect. They are all out there trying to cope, trying to live on what is a lot less money. We are so privileged that we are in this place and that we are fully employed and that we have the privilege of looking after our communities and our electorates.
I think we should be coming back. I think for those of us in the community who are in regional areas it is sometimes very hard to get the connectivity that you need with government. Coming into Parliament, seeing ministers around, being able to catch them in a corridor, have a cup of coffee, have a meeting, these are really important aspects of being a local member of Parliament. It is really I think compelling that we should be sitting more during the course of this year, during a year like that we have never, ever seen before and may never see again. Let us hope we never see it again.
I support the amendment for the very reason that I think we should be in this place. I think the community expects us to be in this place and to be not only seen to be working hard but to actually be working hard, because nobody else is taking holidays. We cannot go overseas, we cannot do the things that normal life would have led us to so in a time like this we need to be at work, so I support the amendment.
The SPEAKER: Order! The Minister for Racing has moved the sitting of the house motion. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment to it to omit words and insert an alternative return date. The question is:
That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
Therefore members supporting the Leader of the Opposition’s amendment should vote no.
House divided on question: