04 August 2020
(Debate, 28 July 2020, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)
The economy in my electorate of Sydney has been one of the most, if not the most, hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. That is because a large component of the State's business transactions and gross domestic product comes from the inner city. We have the highest commercial and residential rents and large numbers of people from outside New South Wales live and work in the CBD. The inner city is a hub for the late-night economy and for the hospitality, entertainment and arts sectors. Those industries have been some of the hardest hit. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many of my constituents losing their businesses, their jobs, their rental properties and their homes. Sadly, too often the conversation amongst friends and family members has changed from, "How was your day?" to "Did you keep your job?" Everyone has been impacted in some way.
It has also been heartwarming to watch how inner-city communities have supported local businesses as they pivot, innovate, change and hibernate in response to the changing environment that we are all dealing with. Businesses large and small within the Sydney electorate have taken the pandemic extremely seriously, with the health and safety of staff and customers being at the forefront of management decisions. We have all heard that the much-loved Apollo restaurant in Potts Point has been impacted. Thanks to the detailed records kept by staff, along with their COVID-19 Safety Plan, contact tracers have been able to contact everyone who attended the restaurant during the relevant period. While businesses need to be COVID safe, it requires a two-way relationship; customers and patrons also need to practice safety measures by washing their hands, wearing masks, keeping socially distanced and providing accurate contact details to the venues they visit.
The importance of wider public engagement in COVID-safe behaviours is especially important in densely populated areas like Sydney, where large numbers of people live in close quarters with each other and spend more time in public. I commend the NSW Health contact tracing team, which is proving highly effective in reducing the spread, saving lives and saving businesses.
I would also like to acknowledge the amazing work being done by NSW Health for testing and the collaboration with St Vincent's Hospital, Kirketon Road and the City of Sydney to make sure we increase the number of testing clinics where needed, which will occur from tomorrow for the Potts Point community. I thank Service NSW for providing businesses with timely information and resources as they become available, and helping venues become COVIDSafe establishments. As the pandemic continues to evolve in ways we probably cannot even understand now, governments will need to continue to innovate and come up with new solutions. I am encouraged by the work done to date that that will continue. The residents and businesses of my electorate stand ready to work with the Government in this process. This is a tough time for so many across New South Wales and in Sydney. Like all members present I cannot wait until we are through this, and Sydney and New South Wales are able to thrive, but we have more work to do in a very trying time ahead.