I actually can't believe we are so close to Christmas - it has been a year like no other. I would like to wish you all a very happy time over Christmas and the New Year acknowledging the very real heartache some will be experiencing who have family and friends in Sydney that were planning to share this time with you.
This year has taught us much - appreciation of our freedom and opportunities to spend time with loved ones, and for some sadly snatched away at almost the last minute.
Many have been separated from loved ones for months, missed sharing the arrival of grandchildren and hugging loves oned when unwell or dying. Things we never thought would ever be ‘prohibited’.
We purchased toilet paper at alarming rates (well some of us did!) and never thought hand sanitiser would be a scarce commodity that’s now sold everywhere.
2020 revealed more clearly the vulnerable individuals and families within our community. Our community came together to care for and support each other in ways we have not previously been called to do. For some, this meant not visiting loved ones. Instead dropping essential supplies became the closest contact permitted.
Parents were asked to support their children’s education at home with many feeling ill-equipped to do so. Our teachers and support staff did a truly incredible job in this time supporting families in such a variety of ways and I thank you all.
For a time, North West Tasmania was the pariah of the nation as we battled to contain an outbreak of a virus we had not heard of last Christmas, causing the closure of our regional hospitals. For those living in North West and Western Tasmania access to health care became even more challenging. Our health care workers and ancillary staff, including the many cleaners whose value we now truly appreciate, bore the brunt of this challenge. For their dedication to care and commitment to quality health care in the face of personal challenge and a deadly virus - I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I commend the strong, inclusive and decisive leadership of Premier Gutwein. This style of leadership is vital to recover from this social and economic crisis.
I also acknowledge the commitment and dedication of all our supermarket workers, cleaners, delivery drivers, police, biosecurity officers and other workers who worked tirelessly to keep us safe. Thank you.
I think my EA Yvonne Stone who has worked tirelessly all year to support me in supporting our community. Those who have called my office in Wynyard would all attest to this- she too has missed her family on the mainland and only yesterday her four boys (men) were all home to share Christmas with her. It has been a hard year in so many ways and her support and work for our community has been unwavering.
Importantly I acknowledge and sincerely thank my fellow Tasmanians for holding the line, doing the right thing (as hard as it was at times) and making it possible for the majority of us to share Christmas with loved ones. Presence of loved ones is the best present!
May this Christmas extra special. Keep safe, stay healthy and enjoy the festive season.