Over the past several weeks we have watched in alarm as the COVID-19 pandemic has spread rapidly around the world.
As of today here in Victoria, there have been 466 confirmed cases of the virus, and while we can’t be certain of what the coming months will hold, it is clear that we are in extraordinary and unprecedented times.
As our state prepares to enter stage two of a nationwide lockdown at midnight tonight, we know that there are many jobs and businesses that will be dramatically affected and that these changes will cause serious hardship.
We are committed to advocating on your behalf during this time to ensure our governments are doing as much as they can to reduce these hardships and support you all.
It truly is a difficult time for all of us, but it has been heartening to see the ways in which our communities have come together during this crisis to look out for and support each other, and we hope that you’ll continue to stay safe during these turbulent times.
On behalf of the Greens, I want to thank all those working tirelessly to support the community and protect lives, particularly those in our frontline services.
I commend the Victorian Government for taking appropriate steps to help ‘flatten the curve’. They are having to make difficult decisions on a daily, if not hourly basis, based on expert advice from health professionals and it’s important that we continue to follow their lead.
In the coming months the Greens will be advocating for those who will be hardest hit during this pandemic.
The economic consequences of the pandemic are already hitting with significant numbers of people losing their jobs and income.
In the absence of wages guarantees from the federal governments and with large companies putting shareholder value before workers, our state governments need to make sure that people losing their income at this time continue to be able to live in their homes, access essential utilities and food and other basics.
Those experiencing homelessness or at risk of losing their homes will be particularly vulnerable and that is why the Greens have called on the Victorian Government to keep these communities at the forefront of their decision making.
We have urged the Government – in their meetings with the National Cabinet to discuss rent relief – to put forward the following proposals for consideration:
- A ban on evictions and rental increases for at least six months
- A mechanism to provide rent relief for those who may not be in a position to pay their usual rent, including consideration of rent holidays
- A guarantee of continued connection for power, water and the internet for everyone
The Government has a vital role during this time and should follow the examples set in other jurisdictions that have acted to protect peoples’ homes.
It is also important that we all uplift and support each other and ensure that no-one is left behind.
Our communities are stronger when they work together and the Greens will continue to work alongside and support all those being impacted by these unprecedented events.
- Samantha Ratnam (Leader of the Victorian Greens)